Letters • 10-01-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

City Accused of “Perpetrating a Sham on Tenants’


The City announced in the September 17 edition of The Times that the Rent Review Board meeting on Sept. 22 would be addressing the city’s proposed changes to the rent ordinance, and that the meeting “will provide another opportunity to speak before the proposed amendments are considered by the City Council.”

Once again, the city proved what a total sham it’s perpetrating on tenants around these proposed ordinance changes. We tenants came in good faith to argue for fairness in the proposed changes, and to point out, again, how these changes will adversely affect us as renters. Some landlords in attendance dredged up the evils of rent control, which is a cynical scare tactic on their part, since the ordinance is not, and will not, constitute rent control nor automatically lead to it.

Following the comments, one of the Board members suggested that the city should hold further public hearings on the issue. The city’s response was that, in fact, there would be no more public meetings on this issue other than the City Council meeting on Oct. 19th, and that, further, the draft as currently written would be submitted to the council on that date with no further changes!

This announcement left the tenants gasping in disbelief!

The city is using forums such as this meeting to orchestrate the appearance of doing something on behalf of renters, while in reality they are forcing tenants who want their voices to be heard into taking part in what, for us, is becoming an officially sanctioned exercise in futility.

We’ll have to show up for the council meeting on Oct. 19th to again state our case knowing that they have absolutely no intention of listening to our concerns.

Tenants, show up for that meeting anyway.  Don’t let them win without a fight.

— K. Lee-Figueroa, San Leandro

With All SL Has to Offer, Why Is Uber Moving to Oakland?


Uber last week announced their move into the soon to be renovated Old Emporium Department Store in Downtown Oakland.

Why isn’t Uber moving to San Leandro?

We have the fastest internet loop in the country, Oakland doesn’t. Oakland hasn’t touted themselves as the new Silicon Valley; San Leandro has. And, with the new tech park taking shape next to the BART station and a full time person at city hall soliciting business for our city, why aren’t Uber or any other tech businesses flocking to San Leandro?

— Gary Langbehn, San Leandro

Calls Out Times for ‘Foul Language’ in Inquiring Reporter


Re: “Inquiring Reporter,” Page 15, The Times, Sept. 24.

Since when did you decide to no longer merely report on the demise of the culture, but rather instead now to participate in it? To push the envelope, and see if anyone would notice or care when you callously include foul language in a family newspaper?

Well I for one noticed.  Shame on you.

— Richard Brock, San Leandro

Accuses U.S. of ‘Major Role’ in Refugee Crisis in Europe


The United States played a major role in creating the refugee crisis in Europe with its military interventions in Africa and the Middle East.

Destabilizing countries with governments that are not fully compliant with United States’ directives is a designed policy of this country; this policy has led to the military intervention in Iraq, the bombing of Lybia, the financial support, training and arming of mercenary forces in Syria and also the daily drone attacks, including also Somalia.

Other NATO member countries and Israel are also involved in these criminal actions all over Africa. The Islamic State is a creation of the United States, its weapons have mostly come from U.S. arsenals.

The inscriptions on the Statue of Liberty should read: “Give me my mercenaries who collaborated with us in our foreign interventions and the illegal scabs who come to work for cheap since we can no longer bring slaves in.”

Now that the mercenary force has completely failed in Syria, the cowardly rats are fleeing, many are drowning in the sea. European workers see them as a scab force that’s going to displace them from their jobs and also the foundation of new terrorist cells.

European people also have a historic reason to reject the Muslim hordes that bring to memory the invasion of Spain and Portugal by the Moors and, later on, the occupation by the Ottoman empire of many Central European countries.

Hungary has shown how the borders can be closed and these mercenaries have shown their violent character by attacking the security forces that keep them out of the country they try to invade.

Hillary Clinton’s “Assad must go” is a no-go; Russia has already made it very clear that this time it’s not going to happen.

— Leo T. West, San Leandro

Wonders How People Can Be Offended by Naked Lady Statue


So a woman is shown in a statue as naked and people are offended. A woman gives us life, breast feeds us and raises us from a crying, teething, pooping machine and says, “I’d do it again.” Wow.

These are amazing people. Let’s respect all women, no matter what. We have a statue of a half naked man on East 14th Street and Neimi Way and no one says a thing. In Florence, we have a statue of David and no one blinks twice.

I hope they make a bobblehead of this very naked lady. I would like to have her on my dashboard.

— Larry Arnold, San Leandro

Letters • 09-24-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Design Bike Lanes So Bikes Can Use Them Safely


Re: “Boy Hit By Car On His Way to School on Bike,” Page One, The Times, Sept. 17.

When terrible incidents like this happen, we often want a person to blame, to make the enemy. And while the driver that struck a 10-year old boy walking his bike in a crosswalk last week at Dutton Ave. and Arbor Drive may have been negligent, vilifying the driver won’t change what happened. We don’t have any say over what happened in the past.

We do however have a say in how the future goes. I worry that this event will dissuade parents from sending their kids to school on bike or foot, which would be such a shame in the face of the City’s “Safe Routes to School” program. Kids biking and walking builds a sense of community and increases parental involvement in the school, as well as lets students arrive at school energized and ready to learn. And a city with adults biking is a city with healthier adults too!

But safety is paramount, and given the city’s vision of a more bike-able and walkable city, improving the safety of the bicycling infrastructure is key for increasing bicycle ridership.

For instance, not all bike lanes are created equal. As an avid urban cyclist, I can tell you that biking next to cars moving above 25 mph is harrowing. Re-purposing the margins of roads into bike lanes by painting “Bike Lane” on them (Davis near Alvarado), or placing lanes adjacent to 30 mph traffic (Williams near Alvarado), is commendable, but ultimately not attractive to bikers. I admit to biking on the sidewalk instead.

City of San Leandro, I commend the bike lanes – please more. But please design them so bikes can use the lanes safely. Then we might achieve the vision of a bike-able and walkable city.  That’s a vision we can all get behind.

— Stuart Collins, Works in San Leandro

Join Your Neighbors to Beautify Schools Oct. 3


Our schools are a valuable resource.

Let’s make them shine on “Beautification Day,” from 9 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturday October 3.

Please join neighbors, families, student groups, faith-based communities, the Alameda Building & Trades Council, Teamsters, businesses, fraternal organizations, teachers, staff, and SLED, all volunteering to help with things like gardening, cleaning, & painting.

This is a San Leandro Unified School District-wide event, so there are opportunities at all of our neighborhood schools. No experience necessary. We need your elbow grease!

In addition to improving our schools, you will also be building community.

If you have any questions, please contact Sarah Bailey ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) or Kathleen Stanley ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), or simply join us on Saturday morning, October 3rd, ready to lend a hand. Thanks!

— Rob Rich, San Leandro

Intrigued by the OSIsoft 'Truth is Beauty' Statue


For sake of full disclosure, I am an OSIsoft employee writing from a personal perspective.

I am intrigued by the new Truth is Beauty statue, and I’ve enjoyed the reader dialogues through this Letters to the Editor section. If I had to pick a favorite, it’s the bold claims of the camp in favor of the Arnold statue. I would very much like to join their cause; however, I have been frustrated in my attempts at finding them.

To lend my voice as one more to a choir for an angel, I think that Truth is Beauty would be a lovely addition to our city. Personally, I see the statue as an exultation of the ego. Not in the sense of exultation of oneself, or idolatry of an image, but rather in a grander sense of self – celebrating the little islands that are each unique persons in an endless sea of space and unknowing. It can be refreshing to take a step back and observe oneself, microscopic in view of all creation, and behold the beauty of one’s being.

We live in an ugly world with often callous or uncaring people – why not take a stance for personal revelry and ambition? We always say, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” If only it were so easy. You must first believe that you can be the change.

As a San Leandran, I’d ask my fellow readers to not engage with the statue as a naked woman, but rather the semblance of a person boldly displaying themselves and their accomplishments unfiltered before their fellow man and before God.

— Elijah Thomas, San Leandro

Public Should Join Effort to End Modern Day Slavery


The Super Bowl will be held in San Jose early in 2016.

Judging from history, we know there will be an influx of prostitutes, bussed into the area. Many of them are the coerced victims of human trafficking.

Catholic nuns and other religious groups are fighting against the traffickers. There are ways the public can join in this effort. Your local papers will be publishing information, and you can ask your local churches what they are doing and what you can do to help stop this abusive, modern day slavery.

— Theresa Schexnayder, San Leandro

Wonders About Jeb’s 'He Kept Us Safe' Remark


In the September 16 Republican debate, Jeb Bush defended his brother’s foreign policy by saying, “he kept us safe.” Seriously?

Has Jeb forgotten that 9-11 happened under Dubya’s presidency, despite copious warnings from the FBI, CIA, NSA, even Condoleezza Rice? And just a few months later, when Bin Ladin was trapped in the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan, a shortage of American troops enabled his escape to Pakistan. Bush had sent more troops to Iraq instead.

Jeb’s topsy-turvy notion of keeping us safe is typical of Republicans. The debate was held in the citadel honoring their most revered president, Ronald Reagan, whose reaction to the bombing of American barracks in Lebanon that killed 241 marines in 1983 was to pull all troops out of Lebanon. The Republican’s tough commander-in-chief hightailed it outta there. And who was Reagan’s Vice President? The first President Bush.

Those Bushes sure have kept America safe!

— Bruce Joffe, Piedmont

Letters • 09-17-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

In Defense of the County’s Handling of Juvenile Inmates


Re: “Juvenile Jail Abuses Inmates, Says Employee,” Page 1, The Times, Sept. 10.

I am a retired Juvenile Institution Officer from Alameda County Probation for 22 years. I have worked at Camp Sweeney and the staff there are good people and they are not abusing the juveniles there.

You have to understand, some of those juveniles sentenced to Camp Sweeney should be serving their time at the Juvenile Justice Center because of their disruptive behavior in following the camp program rules and regulations.

The camp is not a locked facility, which makes it dangerous for staff when the juveniles bring contraband into the dorm area. Unannounced searches of the living area of the juveniles is a must for the safety of staff and the juveniles overall.

Lisa Hill, the camp director, does not support the staff when it come to disciplining juveniles who threaten to assault staff and refuse to let staff strip search them when the juveniles have been suspected of having hidden contraband on their persons.

The camp program is the easiest program that a juvenile can be sentenced to for rehabilitation, but you have some juveniles who just need to be incarcerated because they are violent towards authority figures and being sent to a locked facility like Juvenile Hall is where some of them need to be.

Lisa Hill has no leadership abilities and that’s why some of the staff at Camp Sweeney transfer back to Juvenile Hall to work in a secured and controlled atmosphere.

LaDonna Harris, Chief Probation Officer, is a retired Commander from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department and with her experience, she does not tolerate any abuse or unprofessional conduct, period, by staff towards juveniles.

Lisa Hill never had the experience or background to be camp director and she should just retire because she is a distraction to the camp and the staff who work there.

— Lester Gill, San Leandro

Says Times ‘Crossed the Line’ with ‘Pot Dealer’ Headline


I am often appalled or angered by your attempt to grab your readers’ attention with headlines that do not accurately reflect the content of the article. But last week you really crossed the line and compelled me to write a response.

Your reference to San Leandro’s new Medical Marijuana  Dispensary as a “Pot Dealer” (“City Council Picks Pot Dealer,” Page 1) truly crosses into the realm of irresponsible journalism.

For people who do not yet understand what a Cannabis Cooperative does or how it will benefit our community, the headline evokes visions of back alley drug deals between gun toting criminals. Dealing “Pot” is illegal. The mere illusion that our city council would choose one to operate within San Leandro is ridiculously inaccurate.

Referring to the good people at Harborside as “Pot Dealers” is slanderous to say the least. They beat out several other well qualified applicants by undergoing a long and arduous personal, legal, and financial scrutiny. Any marijuana related actions against any of the applicants was not part of the criteria set forth by the expensive consultant. And rightly so.

All cannabis is illegal at the federal level. It’s history is paved with people who have sacrificed everything to get us where we are today. The civil forfeiture against Harborside back in 2012 was no more than the federal governments attempt to flex their muscles and strike fear into cannabis advocates in an election year.

Marijuana never should have been classified as a Class 1 Narcotic and state by state we are standing up for what’s right. After studying the issues related to our new dispensary, even Benny Lee is now an advocate. People just need to open their hearts and minds and get educated on the facts. I read the San Leandro Times for accurate information about what’s happening in my home town. So, please avoid future shock-and-awe headlines that can cause more problems than they are worth.

— Cammy Arnold, San Leandro

Overpass Designer Fencing Called ‘Appalling Waste of $’


A million dollars for Marina and Davis overpass designer fencing, special lighting fixtures, decorative paving, a butterfly pattern on the overpass slopes at Marina and a cherry pattern on Davis?

Are you kidding me! Gateway to the City, Mr. Cooke? It’s just an overpass for God’s sakes. It’s an appalling waste of money when all City Council has persistently clamored about for years is significant City indebtedness.

Why doesn’t the City Council approve something useful like paying down the millions in loans its been chronically whining about with its repeated, “we don’t have the money!”

City Council inadequate? Yet you are good at approving raises for city officials when city coffers are just beginning to stabilize. This lamentable form of governance is what got San Leandro in debt over the last decades. Planning for the future to City government seems to mean using money to satisfy a wasteful purpose.

Do you think if we made the mayor a full time job and paid City Council members commensurately, we’d get better results with how taxpayer money is approved and allocated?

You think letting Cal Coast entirely fund Shoreline Development, with a wing and a prayer to recoup any money for years before San Leandro sees a dime, is effective business? It’s desperate and taxpayer risky. Not a single business or residence around the proposed Shoreline Development marina is pleased with what you’re doing.

You’re destroying our prized Marina because of pitiful financial planning over decades. It’s shameful how you’re now making unilateral decisions on behalf of citizens and taxpayers – beyond our consent.

Maybe if we required masters or PhD degrees from City Council members we’d get intelligent planning and taxpayer appropriate decisions from within the bowels of City Hall.

— Dwight Pitcaithley, San Leandro

Water Bill Doubles in 2 Years; Something’s Wrong at EBMUD


I just received my latest water bill with about a $50 jump (25%) from last month. I know there is a drought on but this is awful. My EBMUD charges have doubled during the past 24 months. These increases are unsustainable.

As a retiree, I am naturally concerned about for how long I can continue to pay my water/sewer bill.

Water service charges have gone up by 10% in the two years before the current year increases.

These are amazing numbers given the fact that consumer prices are said to have risen about one to two percent during the same period.

Something appears to be clearly wrong with the management of EBMUD, especially when it lists the salary for temporary meter readers at $5,000 per month. This is a job requiring a high school education and physical fitness. Most recent college graduates can’t earn that, to say nothing of the additional benefits.

— Jim Mehner, Oakland

U.S. Should Resettle 100,000 Syrian War Refugees


I was heartbroken to see the photos of refugee Aylan Kurdi, the 3-year-old boy that drowned and washed up on a Turkish beach. The photos and stories coming out of the Syrian refugee crisis are horrendous, and I cannot help but think that the United States can do much more to address this issue.

My father and aunt came to the U.S. after World War II to start a new life in safety. Tragically, the rest of my family was murdered in the Holocaust because the world didn’t step up in time to save them. It is my duty to never forget and to welcome the stranger, because my people were once strangers in a stranger’s land.

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Do we not still live by these words on the Statue of Liberty?

Since its founding, the United States has offered refuge and protection to those who have to flee their homes in other lands. Now, in the face of one of the greatest humanitarian crisis of our generation, it is time for the United States to act again to resettle 100,000 additional refugees into the United States.

— Helena Weiss-Duman, Castro Valley

Creating a Healthier World Not as Difficult as You Think


As we consider turning our yards into pollinator-friendly gardens, let us keep in mind that it may not be as difficult as we might initially think. Among many good resources, there are two very good websites that can help the novice pollinator friendly gardener:  www.crownbees.com and xerces.org.

In a recent newsletter, Crown Bees makes the following suggestions about how and why we should get started:

1.Most lawns are actually dead landscapes that lack food for bees, birds, bugs, and other beneficial insects. Yet, with just a minimal amount of research at reputable local nurseries, we can find plants and ground covers that can give our pollinators a safe haven. Many plants are drought-tolerant once established.

2.Pesticides – Generally, they are not recommended. What happens in our gardens does not stay in our gardens. Remember, if you seek to remove certain pests, you risk removing beneficial insects as well,  probably before you even know anything about them.

Note that new research  is showing that Round-Up is hazardous to earthworms.  Without earthworms, soil cannot thrive.

If our soil is not healthy, our plants, vegetables, and fruits cannot possibly be either, and the fall down the slippery slope continues. Let’s find other ways of tending to our gardens.

If you are interested in turning your yard into a pollinator friendly garden and are on Facebook, please go to the Beefriendly, San Leandro page: www.facebook.com/beesinsanleandro. If you

would like to be involved in some way,

send an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Let’s make San Leandro a pollinator friendly city. We are not the first city to do so, and hopefully, we will not be the last. Let’s work together to create a healthy environment for all.

— Rev. Sue Ann Yarbrough, SpiritCare Ministry, San Leandro

Letters • 09-10-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

More Concerned with Moral Climate Change Than Weather


If I am interpreting correctly “Take a chill pill and relax” (Letters, Aug. 20, “The Statue: ‘Sensitive People Can Avert Their Eyes’”) sounds like a bunch of us are being told to “shut up and get over the issues that matter to you, because they do not matter” to others. I think that attitude is central to the dysfunction of governmental bodies. “Get over it, we know better than you” is not constructive to compromise or civility.

Progressives say “separation of Church and State,” but are really driving for separation of Church and Society.

If there is to be a separation of Church and State, then the Government must address questions about immoral activities with statements like “this is legal,” or “this is protected,” but never offer  a moral valuation like “this is okay,” or “acceptable.” The State is not the place to legislate moral or immoral values.

The single biggest concern I have about climate change, is not changes in the weather, but the moral climate.

Those who have defined God out of all of their explanations of cause and effect, see the weather changes as a result of man’s behavior, but are now pinning drought relief on El Nino ocean currents. Those who still include God in their explanations, see the potential for “Act of God” weather patterns, being just that, Acts of God.

Behaviors that were once both immoral and illegal have now been granted legal status. When people, with absolute moral values (based on historic interpretations of “The Word of God”), try to follow their God, they are told to “Take a chill pill and relax.” Rather than exploring the possible correlation of rejecting God’s moral laws as a society, with a change in climate, the progressives say, “Take a chill pill” and hope in El Nino.

— Justin Jelincic, San Leandro

Calls for Rent Hike Moratorium


I write to respond to the letter “Rent Control Called ‘Destroyer of Housing Stock,” Sept. 3. I counted 8 uses of the word “perhaps.” Mr. Nierengarten is not too creative in his writing however he is imaginative in his portrait of Rent Control.

The prospect of dilapidated flop houses and increased rent are classic landlord scare tactics resurrected whenever economic realities make people question the power dynamics of being a customer in the un-regulated market for shelter.

Rent increases like the one my family was hit with are an economic emergency for the 45% of San Leandro households who pay rent. In fact I’ve had two rent increases in less than a year, and of course it’s totally legal today.

There is plenty of evidence that rent control along with just cause laws, help keep people in their homes long term, and that makes for healthy communities.

It’s hard to find a book to speak in favor of rent control because the assumption that home ownership is the ultimate solution to rent increases permeates their writing (Olsen et al.)

However even Joseph Gyourko of the Wharton School admits that long term stability and racial equity increase with a regulated rental market.

That’s to say racial minorities get a fairer shot at an apartment and people stay put longer and that is not good for realtors! But David doesn’t care about that. To him, it’s all economics and suggests we pick out a book! Really?

No one who pays the rent on time and follows the rules should be forced out. Rent increase moratorium now!

— Guillermo Elenes, San Leandro

Says Landlords are Riding Roughshod over Renters


The Rent Review Board called a meeting on short notice to propose amendments to the current Rent Review Program. This is a toothless ordinance and the proposed amendments would make it even worse.

The San Leandro City Council is rabidly opposed to Rent Control; rents have been skyrocketing and the Rent Review Board has been flooded with cases to arbitrate lately, that’s why they’re trying to eliminate some of the stipulations that are reasons to request a hearing. In other words, instead of solving the problem they don’t want to “hear” about it.

Landlords have been riding roughshod over property-less people, increasing their profits by manipulating the market in order to create scarcity by not building new rental units, by converting apartment buildings into condos or by simply demolishing apartments and replacing them with luxury housing or a business.

On top of this, the state government has been passing legislation that encourages the influx of illegals into the state, thus displacing U.S. workers from their jobs and rental units.

The much touted Marea Alta project won’t be ready until about this time next year and the senior housing part of that project is going to be built after that; make that 2018, with luck. Much of the places that provide senior housing don’t even accept applications and the few that do, put you in a waiting list for years.

Richmond has just passed a Rent Control Ordinance and movements are springing up all over the Bay Area for Rent Control. What’s needed is for the San Leandro City Council to decree an immediate one-year freeze on rent increases. During that year, a Rent Control Ordinance should be implemented which main point should be that any rent increase shouldn’t be above the official rate of inflation. The Bay Area is moving in that direction. The City’s councilmembers should take notice.

— Leo T. West, San Leandro

A Plea to Save Hayward’s Current Library Building


Who knew that the old Hayward Library would be torn down when they voted for Measure C? The library was built in the 1950s. Why put the building in a  landfill? It needs renovation, but who thinks spending a minimum of $5.2 million is worth tearing it down to replace it with pavers?

Who made the decision? Have the taxpayers been given adequate transparency?

Currently, many homeless people use the library facilities/restrooms. Once the library is torn down, where will people go?

On Tuesday, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m., please tell the Hayward City Council you want to repurpose the building for use as a creative community space for art, music, drama and computer labs.

— Winnie & Gerry Thompson, Castro Valley

Gratitude for Motorcyclist Who Saved a Little Dog


I want to personally thank the man I met briefly at the Oakland SPCA on Baldwin Street on  Monday Aug. 31st.

I had to take our dog in at 7:30 a.m. for surgery and a man dressed in motor cycle gear came in with a tiny dog stuffed inside his leather jacket.

He told the receptionist that he was entering the freeway on his motorbike on the way to work, when the little dog ran out in front of him.  He almost ran over it. He stopped his bike and the dog, who was terrified, came to him. He brought it into the SPCA .

If only everyone could be kind and compassionate like this man. I wanted to shake his hand and thank him.

To everyone out there: take care of your pets. This dog wasn’t even microchipped and had no ID on it.

Treat all animals with respect and to that man who took the time and trouble to bring the little dog in, thank you so much! You are an angel!

— Bernadette Buchanan, San Leandro

Tired of BART’s Ear-Splitting Screaching Ride


BART has another target they should be aiming at. I have ridden on mass transit rail conveyances in Europe, Asia and America.

Like the Bay Area, many major cities have extended their mass transit rails to serve their airports and I have never experienced such an ear-splitting screeching ride as I regularly do on our own BART. I am not a commuter, but I think that people who have to ride it every day, twice a day, probably have damaged ear drums because of it.

On the Portland, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York trains, among others, noise is not a problem. I was so impressed with the whispery quiet ride on the SMRT in Singapore that I purchased a documentary DVD from the SMRT while I was there and paid to have it formatted to fit the U.S. DVD players and presented it to the BART main office several years ago to show them how it is done. I got the usual, “We’re working on it,” but nothing has changed.

They should get with the manufacturers of the wheels and rails and figure out what the problem is and fix it.

— Frank Powers, San Leandro

Thanks to McDermott Costa for Underwriting Outing


I am writing to publicly acknowledge and thank McDermott Costa for their generosity and community-mindedness. On August 25th, this local insurance broker generously helped to underwrite Building Futures’ all-staff outing to San Francisco.

Building Futures set aside this day to recognize dedicated and hardworking staff members who work hard to end homelessness and domestic violence in our clients’ lives. With three 24/7 emergency shelters, a supportive housing site, and domestic violence outreach and housing assistance programs at five sites, it is a big challenge to gather our team members together.

This staff appreciation event was made possible by McDermott Costa’s President, John Johnson and our McDermott Costa representative, Kristi Dawson.

Building Futures is passionate about giving our community’s most vulnerable members the opportunity for a fresh start. It means a lot to know a community leader such as McDermott Costa supports our amazing staff!

— Liz Varela, Executive Director, Building Futures

No Fences Needed To End Illegal Border Crossings


I want to give some advice to the Republican Party hopefuls. Donald Trump wants to build a wall along the border with Mexico. And now Scott Walker wants to build a wall along the Canadian border.

May I suggest that the real proposal should be to annex Canada and annex Mexico. We can all be the United States of America. No fence and no expense. Problem solved.

Maybe I should run for president and solve all this worry. All in favor draft me!

— Gerald Dorn, San Leandro

Letters • 09-03-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Rent Control Called ‘Destroyer of Housing Stock’


As rents increase, we see the usual reactionary cries for rent control.

Rent control is a proven, long-term destroyer of housing stock and perhaps paradoxically, increaser of rents. The reasons are basic economics: without an adequate return on investment, landlords will stop investing. This leads to decaying housing stock and limited supply, increasing prices and decreasing quality. Other than paying more for less, rent control is a great idea!

Perhaps tenants would prefer to move to the rent-controlled paradises of Berkeley, San Francisco or Oakland. In all those cities, despite rent control ranging from draconian (Berkeley, San Francisco) to merely unreasonable (Oakland), rents are higher and quality is lower.

I hear New York City has pretty stringent rent control and has for nearly 80 years. Perhaps Manhattan is the real place to find cheap apartments; surely after so many years of rent control, it’s a stable, affordable place for average working folks?

Or perhaps residents could question the received wisdom from the one-party politicians that dominate the area – perhaps rent control doesn’t decrease rents… perhaps continually increasing property taxes (despite Prop. 13, all the additional parcel taxes, etc. over the past 5 years have added 20 percent to my property tax bill) increases rents too, and doesn’t just “stick it to property owners”… perhaps perpetually opposing market-rate developments and driving up the cost of land through foolish regulations increase rents… perhaps more people could take advantage of our public library (funded at least partly through their rents via property taxes) and pick out a basic economics book.

— David Nierengarten, San Leandro

Says Changes in Rent Law Not ‘Small’ as Times Said


I’m gratified to see the San Leandro Times has been covering the proposed Rent Review Board Ordinance changes. There were, however, a few errors in the front-page article “Residents Squeezed by Soaring Rent” on Aug. 27.

The author states that the meeting was called to discuss some “small” changes to the city’s RRB policies. Changes that will have such a wide-ranging financial impact as getting a 10-percent increase every year, on rents that average $1,300-$1,500 per month or more for 1 bedroom, is hardly small.

The article further states that attendees “changed the subject to… long-time residents being priced out of their homes.”  Yes, tenants complained about this in the context that the proposed changes would further exacerbate already soaring rents and put many in further jeopardy of losing their home. And, almost every speaker voiced opposition to the elimination of the $75 trigger to seek a board hearing. Eliminating this cap would remove the condition in the ordinance most favorable to the tenants.

Lastly, the article also states “changes to the ordinance would have to be approved by the City Council – an action that hasn’t been placed on an agenda yet.” The city passed out printed materials, of which mysteriously there weren’t enough of, that in fact did have the Council’s schedule for action: first reading at the Sept. 21 Council meeting, second reading at the Oct. 5 meeting, and automatic adoption after 30 days on Nov. 5.

I would also like to take this chance to point out an issue I personally raised at the meeting: that the changes would disproportionately affect Black and Hispanic residents. According to City-Data.com, 13 percent of the residents of this city are Black and 27 percent Hispanic, yet inside those demographics, 70 percent and 54 percent respectively are renters.

— K. Lee-Figueroa, San Leandro

Community Has a Say in San Leandro Creek Trail


As the Council Members representing Districts 1, 5 and 6, we wanted to share with the community some important information concerning San Leandro Creek, which runs through all of our respective districts.

In September of last year, the City Council, along with many other stakeholders, applied for and was successful in receiving a $200,000 grant from Caltrans. The purpose of the grant is for a study that will identify opportunities and constraints regarding development of a creek trail.

If such a trail were eventually developed following public input, it could provide a valuable community amenity for walkers, runners and cyclists. However, the City does not expect such a trail to be feasible in all locations, particularly in areas of the creek that abut residential properties. Furthermore, the City has not initiated a bidding process for actual construction of a trail, and there are no plans in place to begin construction at this time.

To ensure community input in the development of a plan, the study will include, at a minimum: 4 Technical Advisory Committee Meetings, 4 Citizen Advisory Meetings, 3 Public Workshops and 3 Focus Group Meetings.

If you would like to be placed on an interested parties list, please contact Anjana Mepani, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 577-3348.

— Council Members: Vice Mayor Jim Prola (Dist. 6), Deborah Cox, (Dist. 1), Corina Lopez, (Dist. 5)

School Safety Also a Responsibility of Parents


There was a very important article on the front page of the San Leandro Times (“School’s Open, Drivers Urged to Slow Down,”  Aug. 20). You have made it very clear that we drivers must watch all that is happening at all times, going past schools. I agree.

There are also many other things that need to be addressed. I travel past Corvallis Elementary School many times a day. I have witnessed adults allowing their children to dash out between the cars and school buses without the adult holding onto the child. There are many adults and children who do not cross at the crosswalk. There is a crossing guard doing a great job stopping traffic and getting children and adults across safely. There are cars double parking, doing U-turns, and just not paying attention.

In the past, I have called the school and have described to them the danger. All I get is, “Oh yes, we send notices to all families at the beginning of school…” They also said they have a person outside monitoring when school is leaving. I have seen one person out there and she had a “No Parking” sign for the teacher parking lot.

Thank you Ms. Sylvestri for your column in the paper. How about another one to remind adults who are picking up their children that they, too, have a responsibility?

— Patricia Bondura, San Leandro

Upset Over Lack of Response on Bancroft Dangers


Life is full of choices. Our household budgets are no different than the city budget. It’s a constant struggle to prioritize how money is spent. Do we advance the interests of a few while sacrificing the safety of many? I know that around my house a broken step would always be fixed before buying new drapes or paint.

After five years of complaining to our council member and now Mayor Pauline Cutter about Bancroft Ave. and how dangerous it is to cross this street in the Broadmoor, it’s clear that she is choosing not to fix this major artery through our city. She’s offered no help, even though we submitted a petition asking for help making our neighborhood safer. She knows this Bancroft is a problem and chooses to ignore us.

The statistics speak for themselves – 13 accidents on Bancroft this year alone. What doesn’t show up in the stats is how many people fear for their lives crossing Bancroft.

So, Mayor Cutter, since you’ve chosen to ignore our pleas about this dangerous street, the next accident that happens on Bancroft is your fault. And, I pray it’s not a fatality.

It’s time to get Bancroft fixed. Revenue is up. The fixation with the tech campus has taken up too much of your focus. Stop ignoring our pleas and making excuses and get it done Mayor Cutter.

— Gary Langbehn, San Leandro

OSI Statue ‘a Poor Choice for its Intended Location’


In my early 20s, I worked at a large sign shop as a graphic designer among mostly male workers of various trades. I recall painfully how it felt to be sexually harassed on an everyday basis. It was mostly unchecked in those days.

For example, sales people would come every so often and as a marketing tool some would hand out nude calendars. These calendars were displayed proudly by most of the male workers in the shop and they obviously got a kick out of how the few women workers like myself reacted to seeing pictures of women with their private parts exposed in the workplace. I did not feel “empowered” being so confronted while trying to get my work done, be a team player, and advance my career.

If I were to work at the new office campus in San Leandro where the “Truth is Beauty” sculpture is being moved to, I am reasonably confident that I would feel the same way. Marco Cochrane’s claim that his sculpture is empowering to women is unconvincing. Perhaps “empowerment” is far too egotistic a claim for any artist’s work. Artwork is always about giving people information and letting them read into it what they will.

The primary concern I have about the five story sculpture is that it is not site specific – the alluring subject matter depicting a nude woman and its size and festive lighting seems better suited and scaled for a large park. It might sit well in a private museum or estate. It is a significantly poor choice for its intended relocation – to a diverse urban setting. I question the merits of this city planning decision and I ask others to make up their own minds with care.

— Leah Hall, San Leandro

Statue Controversy: Three Suggestions


I have pondered the question of the statue at OSI and have three suggestions;

1. Buy a Victoria’s Secret bra and thong set for her, immediately changing her from pornographic to erotic.

2. Put a raincoat over her that opens every hour on the hour, changing her from pornographic to exhibitionist (Flasher).

3. Take the artist’s conception of what

I believe to be God’s greatest achievement and let it be!!!!!

— Ed Gracy, San Leandro

Letters • 08-27-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Changes to Rent Review Board Ordinance Seem to be ‘A Done Deal’


What a disappointment that neither our mayor nor city council members, except Messrs. Thomas and Prola, saw fit to attend the city-wide meeting they themselves called regarding the proposed changes to the Rent Review Board Ordinance.

This is a bread-and-butter issue for many residents, yet only this one meeting has been called for on the rent changes.

The city’s proposed changes would remove the $75 threshhold at which a tenant could request a board hearing, leaving intact only the wording that would allow tenants to request a hearing if their rent is being raised more than once in a 12-month period, or more than 10%. Not 10% itself, but more than 10%, allowing landlords a free hand to seek raises of 10% per year every year if they so wished without having to be bothered by unhappy tenants requesting board hearings.

I’ve raised the problem of soaring rents at several town hall meetings, and was always told that it was being worked on. Unfortunately, I was never told that it was being worked on in any way that would actually be of help to tenants. And, at these meetings, the city has been criticized over and over for being beholden to businesses over the good and welfare of its residents, and once again, this proves to be true.

The landlords who want these changes don’t live in this city, they merely do business here, while those of us who will have to live with the changes and be affected by them actually do live here. This one and only meeting becomes nothing more than a cynical ploy for City Hall to announce the proposed changes and make it look as if tenants have any say in the outcome of them.

The speed with which the council plans to adopt the changes and have them take effect seems to indicate that they’re already a done deal no matter what tenants may want.

And where do tenants move to if they get priced out of their homes? Not to affordable housing in this city! According to the city’s own website, they list a grand total of 1,893 below-market units, 541 of which are for seniors and disabled, leaving only 1,352 units for everyone else.

Waiting lists are extremely long, so they’re not a go-to option for renters priced out of their unit who need affordable housing to move to immediately. There is no longer any Section 8 in this city, nor any HUD funding to build with. And, while Marea Alta is a good thing, it’s way too little and way too late. The crisis for renters is already here, and gentrification can’t be far behind.

Tenants and supporters need to write, e-mail, or phone city hall to let the council know we are not happy with their proposed changes where, once again, business money talks. I’m sure the city is hoping you won’t bother to make your voice heard. And be sure you’re also registered to vote: Your vote is your voice.

I hope the Times will cover this issue further.

— K. Lee-Figueroa, San Leandro

Tide is Turning on Healthier School Lunches


With the new school year here, parents’ attention is turning to school clothes, supplies and lunches. Yes, school lunches!

In past years, USDA had used our nation’s schools as a dumping ground for surplus meat and dairy commodities. Not surprisingly, one-third of children have become overweight or obese. Their early dietary flaws become lifelong addictions, raising their risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Gradually, the tide is turning. New guidelines mandated by President Obama’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, require doubling the servings of fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, less sodium and fat, and no meat for breakfast. A survey released last week shows the guidelines supported by 86% of Americans.

Sixty-four percent of U.S. school districts now offer vegetarian options. More than 120 schools, including the entire school districts of Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Oakland, Philadelphia and San Diego have implemented Meatless Monday.

Some schools have dropped meat from their menu altogether.

As parents, we need to work with school cafeteria managers and our own children to encourage the availability and consumption of healthy, plant-based school foods. Entering “vegetarian options in schools” provides lots of good resources.

— Dennis Roth, San Leandro

Letters • 08-20-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

The Statue: ‘Sensitive People Can Avert Their Eyes’


Aww c’mon. So many people are appalled, offended, and disgusted by a sculpture that is still under construction and won’t be in place until 2016.

I’ve never been to Burning Man or to Marco Cochrane’s Treasure Island studio to see “Truth Is Beauty” in the flesh. I’ve only seen the Google images of the work. I invite all to go to the Internet to view pictures of it. Those who think the sculpture is pornographic can stay online, visit a few sites that show the real stuff and compare. Their opinions might change. It’s happened in the past.

An example is the Sistine Chapel with all that male frontal nudity, in a house of God, no less. Shortly after Michelangelo completed the painting, it was judged to be obscene. Almost all of the naughty parts within the critics’ reach were painted over. Fortunately, their’s was not The Last Judgment about the work.

If concern was a foot race, the amount of concern generated by this sculpture has surpassed the Heron Bay Homeowners Association’s concern about the windmill and concerns about the territoriality of the HBHA itself. It shot by the concerns about the oddly shaped lot at the intersection of E. 14th, Hesperian, and 150th. It’s gaining on concerns about flying the Chinese flag over City Hall.

Two issues that might substitute for concerns about the sculpture are, what will we do:

• If the El Niño doesn’t materialize over the winter? or

• If there is another financial/banking calamity like 2008’s in the works?

There are plenty of other, far more important, things to be concerned about.

Take a chill pill and relax. Parents can explain things to their children or take another route. Sensitive people can avert their eyes.

— Jeff Sturm, San Leandro

Many Works of Art Considered ‘Porn’ in the Past


Truth is (!) beauty.

Shades of Victorian prudery. Let’s review “porn” from the past: “Venus de Milo,” Michelangelo’s “David,” Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus,” Donatello’s “Bronze David,” Auguste Rodin “The Kiss,”  The Discus Thrower, The Thinker.

If those world-famous works aren’t clearly illustrating the (shameful, pornographic) body parts, call me nuts. To be ashamed of a human body is to be ashamed of oneself. Pornography exists because we’ve made the body a shameful mystery. Add up the “moralists” who pop up in news who turn out unfaithful or “family friendly” comedians who turn out to be serial rapists.

When traveling in Gambia, the women I saw walked around topless until a white man is seen. They then hastily covered themselves having learned that the white man sees “baby spigots” as things of lust and cover up.

This sculpture is for the future of San Leandro and a statement about feminine empowerment. Sputtering disapproval shows little or no understanding of the art, engineering, vision and persistence necessary to create such a form using steel rods and metal fabric.

If you ever got a chance to tour the artist’s studio, your jaw would drop from the complexity of these projects which are worked on, by the way, by his two daughters as well as other volunteers. This isn’t “decoration.” This is art. What is the difference? Art causes controversy, discourse, and challenges old ideas and shakes things up. Decoration is… decorative. No muss, no fuss.

In other words; yawn. Who remembers controversy during the proposal for the Trans Am pyramid in San Francisco? Likely the ones who were against it are dead. We will soon be looking up and appreciating the intent of this project and the world will come to see also.

— Gary Branchaud, San Leandro

Accuses Church Objectors of Hiding Their Biases


It has been my experience, that when folks lead off their reasons for excluding some group or denying them equal treatment with the standard canard “I don’t have anything against _____” (fill in the blank), they are trying to blow smoke and hide their biases.

The dustup regarding this church has bigotry written all over it. I’m surprised they didn’t roll out that old standby excuse of “what about the children?”

Well, here’s a heads-up for some of our more conservative San Leandro residents: Change is here and change is here to stay. Live with it.

— Vernon S. Burton, San Leandro

Thanks to Library Volunteers for Summer Reading Program


Every year, the San Leandro Public Library encourages patrons of all ages to stay engaged in reading and learning over the summer through our Summer Reading Programs. This summer, four different reading programs were offered:  “Read to Me” for babies and toddlers, “Every Hero Has A Story” for children ages 3 to grade 6, “Unmask!” for teens, and “Escape the Ordinary” for adults.

The highlight for the youth who complete the Summer Reading Program is attending the Carnival, which was held on August 8th in the Main Library parking lot.

Our Summer Reading Program would not be possible without the generous time given by our teen volunteers. Volunteering not only satisfies the high school community service requirement, but it also helps teens to gain valuable work experience. This past summer, the library had the help of over 200 teen volunteers. These awesome teens, who are going into grades 9 through 12, volunteered over 5,600 hours this summer by working with kids at the Summer Reading Program stations, helping at library programs, and more.

While the library is appreciative of the time and effort given by all of our teen volunteers, staff at all four branches have selected 24 Outstanding Teen Volunteers to be recognized for their achievements over the summer.

The exemplary volunteers are: Shirley Chen, Daniel Chu, Jiaxin Fei, Christopher Guan, Swan Htut, Isis Huang, Jenny Huang, Dora Khuu, Irine Le, Korina Macaspac, Natalia Macias, Joanne Miao, Ethan Ngo, Kelly On, Howard Peng, Veronica Quintanilla, Marco Siu, Justin Ta, Justin Tat, Caleb Taylor, Allie Truong, Kelly Tse, Brittney Wong, and Alison Yu.

Thank you to all our teen volunteers for your service this summer to our community of readers!

— Loryn Aman, Teen Services Librarian, San Leandro Public Library

Letters • 08-13-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Important Meeting for Tenants on Rent Review Board Law


The city has just released a press notice of a meeting on August 19 at 6:30 p.m. at the Senior Center on East 14th Street regarding their proposed changes to the Rent Review Board Ordinance. They are only giving 8 days notice of this meeting, and also scheduling it on the first day of school.

It is of vital importance to the tenants of this city to attend this meeting. The link in the press release outlines the proposed changes, and those changes will virtually eliminate the few protections tenants now have under the ordinance.

Tenants need to know that the proposed changes will institutionalize a 10% rent increase across the board, and will eliminate the $75 cap for a tenant to bring a case before the board.

In real numbers for example, a tenant paying $1,300 a month in rent will automatically not be able to bring a case before the board unless the increase is over $130, almost twice what is currently provided under the $75 trigger. And if a landlord decides to increase rent every year at 10% – and there is nothing in the proposed ordinance to stop them from doing so – that means that under the example given above, the following year a tenant could see a rent increase of $143, and so on for ensuing years.

These proposed changes so favor landlords, they could actually have written the changes themselves. They contribute campaign money to candidates running for mayor and the city council, while the people these changes will impact tend to be overwhelmingly at the bottom of the economic ladder.

Tenants, please go to this meeting and let your voices be heard, even though the city – which has been criticized in every recent town hall meeting for favoring business over residents – will probably give us the royal shafting on this also.

— K. Lee-Figueroa, San Leandro

Concerned About How City Will Pick Pot Dealer


In reference to the recent article: “City Council To Pick Pot Dealer,” (Page One, The Times, Aug. 6) I am hoping our mayor and city council will do their due diligence to ensure the vetting of each stakeholder/vendors.

The discussions, by the mayor and council, about the type of dispensary desired in San Leandro has always been one of high standards that conforms to the state law, works well with the city and would be the right fit for San Leandro and our residents.

How much vetting has been/will be done by the consultant and staff? Sure the stakeholders/vendors have had to present a business plan and pass an individual criminal background. Though, will the mayor and council know if a stakeholders/vendor: (1) has been issued a permit and had it revoked; (2) sued a city/county/state agency over a permit or decision about a dispensary; (3) operated without a permit; or (4) pushes the limits of the law that draws national attention?

And if they do, will they willing share that with the public before they cast their vote? What criteria are being used to rank the stakeholders/vendors?

As noted in the article, San Leandro residents are of two minds on this issue. What information will the public have from this vetting process to help us understand really who the best fit for San Leandro will be? Will the meeting Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. have a presentation about each vendor before the vote?

If we are going to have a dispensary in San Leandro, I am hoping it is one that can work well with the city, will not cost the city money in defending a law suit, builds relationships with the community and have a well maintained, secured, facility that achieves the goals of why one is needed in San Leandro by those supporting it: for our residents!

Diana Souza, San Leandro

Prayer Center Protest ‘Has Nothing to Do with Religion’


In response to Ms. Palos (“Upset with Prayer Center Protestors,” Letters, Aug. 6): Yes, I would object to any church proposing to move in next door to me in a residential neighborhood where not a single member of the congregation has any personal, social or economic ties to the neighborhood.

If you were at any of the meetings involving the matter, you would have heard Buddhists, Catholics, in fact members of many different faiths protesting. The issue has nothing to do with religion. It is simply a matter of anything being forced upon a neighborhood that is already zoned as R1. That is Residential, single family dwellings.

There is only one way in and one way out of our neighborhood. Home Depot, Office Depot, Sports Authority, Wal-Mart and several other stores are across the street; Costco, Burger King and several other stores are just down the street and the traffic is atrocious.

Davis West is a very diverse neighborhood. Caucasians, Mexicans, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese just to name a few of the people that I have met. We welcome families to come and make a home in our neighborhood. What we do not welcome is the City of San Leandro trying to shove something down our throats because they, the city, think that they know best.

Why bother with public hearings and then disregard everything the public says? If we are in a dictatorship, then let’s just call it a dictatorship, dispense with any pretense of caring what the citizens think or want, and just do what you are going to do anyway without wasting everyone’s time, effort and energy.

— -Jim Givens, Davis West Resident

Safety Cited as Reason to Block Prayer Center


In response to the letter written by Maria Palos (see above), one should never assume they know what the motives of others are without knowing all the facts, because that person will become the ignorant one.

None of the residents of Davis West that I have spoken to or who have spoken at meetings on this matter have mentioned religion being a factor.  It is not why we questioned the Prayer Center!

I have been a resident of this neighborhood since 1958 and had family living in this area long before that. The city realized that having only one way into and out of this area was not the safest way to go and left one lot vacant. That lot was to eventually give us a second road out to Davis Street.

However, the city sold the lot and our second road went with it. Our concern is the safety for the exiting and entering this area, residential parking, as well as accessibility of emergency vehicles.

We are not “lower San Leandro,” as I have heard people refer to this area, and we have the same rights as provided by law as do the rest of the citizens of this city. Nor are we “ignorant” simply because we have issues regarding how this area is treated by our city government or other neighborhood residents.

In closing, I suggest Ms. Palos should walk a mile in our shoes, as well as getting her facts right before passing judgement.

— Shirley Rocha, San Leandro

Times Puts the Funnies on the Front Page


Reading the San Leandro Times of Aug. 6 was mostly a hilarious experience. First I read the article “Downtown Benches Pulled Out” with the idea “to encourage people to linger downtown.” Okay, but did SLIA talk to the city about the parking time limit? Will there be more patrols for the increasing abundance of panhandlers? I have been downtown to shop, eat, and get a mani/pedi. But I can’t do all that in one parking spot without getting a ticket. There’s no way I can “have a seat.”

And the paper gets a kudo for the headline “City Council to Pick Pot Dealer.” That’s totally crass and absolutely hilarious simultaneously.

And of course there’s poor Mrs. Anderson (“Disturbed, Disgusted and Appalled by Statue,” Letters) who thinks a nude statue is porn – clearly she has not seen porn.

Thank you San Leandro Times for a morning filled with laughter!

— Diana Cohn, San Leandro

No Time to Think When You See a Crime Occurring


I recently learned a lesson in the hard knocks of life. On Wednesday, July 29, as I approached the Safeway store at East 14th and Davis streets in San Leandro, I saw a car parked in the traffic lane with the door open and no one inside.

It  looked strange until I saw a man grab a purse out of a nearby car and run for the open-door car.  I ran to block his path and to physically prevent his escape but was a step too slow, which was probably very fortunate for me.  I am 79; the thief was around 38 and outweighed me by about 35 pounds.  There was no one around to assist me.

In addition, the odds are high that the thief possessed a knife or gun. My reaction was dumb, and I now realize that each of us must be mentally prepared to react correctly when stressful conditions occur unexpectedly.

I should have instead concentrated on identifying the thief and his car and to also yell: “Thief! Call security, get the license number on this car!”  As it was, I don’t think anyone did.

Though not hurt, the victim was stunned and did not yell out or even get out of her car until long after the thief had fled.

Hopefully, others reading of my experience will be more alert and more mentally prepared to react correctly in this age of increased criminal activity.

Each of us should also take precautions to minimize potential losses of our valuables. Most of us do so when traveling but are too careless at home.  Carry only the cash and credit cards you will need on a particular outing; leave the rest at home. Do not put everything into one wallet, pocket, or purse.  Also keep in mind that while a purse is great for accessory items, it is very vulnerable to theft.

— Larry Graves, San Leandro

Letters • 08-06-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

No More Merit Raises, No More Consultants


Public Works Director Debbie Pollart’s letter (“Underground Utilities, Street Lights Installation Underway,” Letters, July 30) justifying how our money is being spent around town on infrastructure projects, instead details exactly what’s wrong with city hall right now — zero sense of urgency.

She talks about an $8.5 million project in the works that will be completed “in a few years.” Does that mean this decade? Seriously, before 2019?

We’ve only accomplished a 14 percent switch-over to LED street lights so far, where Richmond (a city of similar size and population) got theirs done all at once. So, when will the other 86% of our lights be done? Again, in this decade?

But first, we once again have to hire consultants to tell the city what to do. Why do we need to hire consultants to direct our city staff to do work around our own city? And, how much does this round of consultants cost...$100,000, $250,000, more?

This is ridiculous. If the people we’ve hired at city hall for their expertise have to then hire consultants to tell them what what to do, why do we need the people at city hall in the first place?

It’s time to stop wasting time and money. It’s time for our mayor to show some leadership. No more merit raises, no more consultants. No more wasting time. I know it’s not fun Mayor Cutter, but it’s time to hold people accountable.

— Gary Langbehn, San Leandro

Upset with Prayer Center Protestors


Regarding “Davis West Neighbors Shun Prayer Center,” (Page One, The Times, July 30), shame on the Davis West Neighborhood!

The Religious Freedom Law Restoration Act was approved by Congress, signed into law in 1993.

It appears that the group of people objecting to the prayer center are ignorant or don’t care, judging by their comments.

Twenty-five members for weekend service is not impacting traffic and I sincerely hope that the San Leandro City Council approves the prayer center.

I wonder if this same crowd would have objected if the request was from Catholic, Jewish, Baptist or any other religion.

— Maria Palos, San Leandro

Disturbed, Disgusted and Appalled by Statue


I am disturbed, disgusted, and appalled at the thought of having this giant naked statue in public in the family-friendly town of San Leandro.  I believe she is going to be larger than any building in town.

It is not wise to display pornography in the public square where our young children will see it. We do not allow pornography in our drug and grocery stores and other shops. Why should we allow it in the great out-of-doors?

— Mrs. Ute Anderson, San Leandro

Now, About That Companion Statue of The Arnold...


I was honored to read that Margarita Lacabe (“Sizing Up That ‘Arnold’ Statue Suggestion,” Letters, July 9) agrees with the idea to commission a partner for the Truth Lady’s as a wonderful tribute ex-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now we are founding members  of the “Arnold Statue” ad hoc committee.

She is also right in that Arnold did take steroids “back in the day” when he was a professional body builder, created huge biceps, which did “pique my interest,” as I have lifted weights “back in my day.”

However, I am unsure what  anatomical part she was referring to that required a magnifying glass; so, if Ms. Lacabe has any  “inside information” I hope she passes it along to us all.

— Pete Ambrosia, San Leandro

Martin O’Malley a Better Choice for Democrats?


For many Democrats, Hillary’s politics are too embedded with Wall Street, while Bernie seems too independent to be electable.

I recently discovered the candidate whose progressive politics are coupled with a proven ability to govern. Maryland’s former Gov. Martin O’Malley, also former Mayor of Baltimore, has the managerial experience and technical vision to apply information technology to make governmental decisions based on knowledge.

He applied the same mapping technology we use when finding a route through traffic, to identify where Baltimore’s worst crime was, and he allocated increased resources to those neighborhoods to fight the city’s crime problems.

With knowledge-based decision-making and O’Malley’s managerial savvy, Baltimore’s violent crime reduced by 41%.

As governor, he applied the similar methods to reduce Maryland’s unemployment and increase jobs faster than its neighboring states that had cut their budgets for necessary services.  He promotes a new way of managing to get things done, moving from innovation-limiting hierarchy to collaborative consensus-building.

O’Malley’s top goals are to reverse the causes of climate change by supporting clean, renewable power sources; to limit the influence of unaccountable big money in our political system; and to reduce the disparity of wealth and opportunity with affordable education, fair taxation, big-bank regulation and resistance to trade deals that threaten our environmental, labor, and health protections.

Americans are tired of seeing clowns run around the circus car when we need a President who knows how to work effectively for the shared concern of our survival on this planet.  Details at martinomalley.com.

— Bruce Joffe, Piedmont

Letters • 07-30-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Underground Utilities, Street Light Installation Underway


In last week’s San Leandro Times, a resident expressed concern regarding the City’s efforts with undergrounding utilities and conversion to LED street lights to save on energy (“Expansion of OSI Called ‘A Quiet Failure,’” Letters, July 23).

In 2012, the City completed utility undergrounding on E. 14th Street from 150th Avenue to the southern city limits at a cost of approximately $2.7 million. The City’s Engineering & Transportation Department is currently designing an $8.5-million undergrounding project on E. 14th Street from 150th Avenue to Thornton Street. Construction is scheduled to start in the next few years.

In late 2010, at the direction of Council, the City entered into an agreement with the Department of Energy for acceptance of $734,800 in Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant funds.

These grant funds were spread out to encompass both energy efficiency programs made available to residents, as well as construction projects focused on improving the City of San Leandro’s energy efficiency.

At project completion in 2013, $188,972 was spent on upgrading 14 percent of the City’s street lights to LED, and $336,800 was spent on installing building management systems (HVAC and lighting controls) in several City buildings. Additionally, in 2013, the Public Works Department completed retrofitting all City traffic signals via a PG&E rebate program.

Earlier this year, City Council directed staff to pursue work with a consultant, who, after completing a citywide audit, will provide a list of recommended energy and water efficiency projects for the City’s consideration. It is anticipated that the conversion of the remaining street lights to LED will rank high on the list of projects and work could begin as early as the first quarter of 2016.

— Debbie Pollart, Public Works Director, City of San Leandro

There’ll Always Be Grumblers About City Improvements


I wonder what the folks at OSI did to incur so much wrath from certain quarters of the San Leandro population.

Week after week, the Times has a letter or two from some resident who is in a snit about their buildings or their taste in art for the OSI campus. It would seem that some of our local curmudgeons are so bent out of shape that they even drug poor former Oakland Mayor Jean Quan into the fray last week.

Well, my advice to the OSI folks is to ignore the babble. Some of these same complainers fought the new Kaiser Medical Center and can be counted on to mutter and grumble about anything that drags San Leandro into the 21st century.

— Vernon S. Burton, San Leandro

About the Food Change and How it Involves All of Us


As we give thought as to how to make our outdoor spaces more inviting for pollinators and humans alike, I encourage us to drop the word “yard” from our vocabulary.

What we are trying to create are gardens. That may help us to remember that our gardens are part of the wider web of gardens in our community. If we can keep this deep connection in mind, we really can begin to create an urban sanctuary for all living things, from the microbes in the soil, to the fruits and flowers we enjoy, to the birds in the air.

We cannot pick and choose. We need to consider them all.

I am reminded of this connection as I read the very fine book, “The Third Plate,” by Dan Barber. Yes, he is a chef writing about the food chain, but it is truly applicable to everything.

He writes, “What we refer to as the beginning and end of the food chain – a field on a farm at one end, a plate of food at the other – isn’t really a chain at all. The food chain is actually more like a set of Olympic rings. They all hang together… We can’t think about changing parts of our system. We need to think about redesigning the system. (21).”

That is both the beauty and the perils of being a pollinator. They connect us. We are in this together.

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”  John Muir (Barber, 20).

— Rev. Sue Ann Yarbrough, SpiritCare Ministry to Seniors Bee Friendly, San Leandro

Letters • 07-23-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Expansion of OSI Called ‘A Quiet Failure’


I have a very different vision for San Leandro than our current Mayor.

I know it sounds exciting to think we’re going to be the next Silicon Valley with our fiber optic loop but so far it’s been a quiet failure. In reality what we’re doing is helping pay for expanding OSI which will justify the cost of hooking up the library and malls to the loop.

It has not been a big job creator as sold to us by this Mayor and the last one, otherwise someone would have corrected my past letters with a glowing jobs report to silence my criticism. I think the silence from City Hall speaks volumes.

So right now we’re busy watching them erect some truly ugly, built-on-the-cheap office buildings that look nothing like the Spanish theme buildings on the east side to the BART Station and I think to myself we can do better.

Plopping a naked lady in the middle of cheap looking buildings isn’t some big win for the city. It’s as if you’re erecting a giant shrine to male chauvinism in San Leandro since just about zero women work in the tech industry and the Mayor thinks it’s really cool. I’m skeptical.

I know it doesn’t sound very exciting, but I’d rather have safer streets, undergrounded utilities and LED street lights to save on energy. But instead we got the loop. I’m very skeptical.

I’m frustrated that we’ve elected someone as our Mayor without the common sense to deal with these issues. That somehow a naked lady statue trumps public safety and fiscal responsibility, but then, I think about what Oakland had to endure with Jean Quan as their Mayor. They suffered through four years of her bad decision-making.

I guess Mayor Cutter is now our Jean Quan.

— Gary Langbehn, San Leandro

Rep. Lee: San Leandro Moving In the Right Direction


Solar power is here to stay and that’s a good thing for our planet and for jobs.

The 13th Congressional District is home to more than 70 solar companies, six of which are located in San Leandro. These companies employ more than 1,800 workers in the green economy jobs of today and tomorrow. Solar energy powers more than 18,000 homes in the 13th Congressional District.

Most recently, the San Leandro Unified School District became connected to the city’s fiber optic loop because of a new solar panel installation. This connection opens the door to high-speed internet and 21st century technology in every classroom.

It’s clear that San Leandro and the entire East Bay are moving in the right direction.

Now, we must continue this progress and ensure that all Americans can access this clean energy source.

That is why I was proud to introduce the Low Income Solar Act (H.R. 3041), with Congressmen Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) and Keith Ellison (D-MN), to ensure that everyone has access to solar power and that our community benefits from the burgeoning solar industry.

H.R. 3041 would allow low-income families to obtain grants to install solar panels on their homes to decrease energy costs and increase sustainability.  Additionally, the bill establishes a loan program to create community solar facilities.

This bill is a step in the right direction to guarantee economic and environmental justice all while helping to create more jobs.

We must continue to invest in  21st century technologies.

— Congresswoman Barbara Lee, 13th Congressional District

Regulations, Trash Haulers Share Blame for Dumping


This is in response to the letter, “Fears Trash Dumping is Turning Ashland into a Slum” on July 16, 2015.

I would like to thank Avis Robinson of Ashland for her letter. Unfortunately it is not just happening in Ashland, but all over the Bay Area. On my street alone I can typically fill a 13-gallon trash bag every other week. I pick up the litter in the street and in people’s yards and I am always calling the City of San Leandro regarding the dumping (often of several rooms of furniture and garbage) along Foothill Boulevard.

While I agree that it is the responsibility of homeowners and renters, property managers, and business owners to ensure that their properties are kept trash free, I also place blame on regulation and the trash collection industry.

Regulation – the way trash is collected (by one driver and a truck) – and access to the County dump has made it virtually impossible to dispose of unwanted items. If it can’t fit in any of those cans it will end up in the street.

The drivers often do not get out of their truck to pick it up (I have witnessed this many times) leaving the “collecting” to others to have to pick up!

I don’t want to live in a slum either as this results in the loss of my property value. Everyone should help out by bending over once in awhile to remove trash and weeds from their yards and businesses. Take some pride in living in a well kept community!

— Donna M. Meyer, San Leandro

Sharing Our Resources


In a recent on-line discussion, a neighbor reported that while she was out hand watering her garden someone ran by and shouted, “Water waster!” and kept on going.  The label puzzled my neighbor, as she was trying to comply to gardening guidelines that suggest deeper, less frequent watering.

She was not able to have that conversation with the one running by because that person did not stop to converse. Yet, that evening she was blessed to spend time in her garden with several hummingbirds who did indeed opt to linger and enjoy her garden.

I confess that I believe everything we plant or dig up must be attended with our pollinators in mind. The same is true of the choices we make about what to water and what to let go dry. We need to share our watering and gardening resources with our birds, bees, and other pollinators because that is what they do for us. We need their presence in our gardens now, and we will need them long after this drought has passed.

We also need to be in good relationships with our human neighbors as well.

If you are interested in being part of a group exploring how and what to plant for our pollinators, please send an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . If you are on Facebook, go to Bee Friendly, San Leandro, www.facebook.com/beesinsanleandro.

Also, please keep in mind that Tuesday, August 4, is National Night Out, a great time to connect with neighbors. Tuesday morning’s earthquake should remind us all that none of us are on solid ground. The neighbor we rush by in a huff today may very well be the neighbor whose assistance we will need tomorrow. Let’s nurture and enjoy good relationships now.

— Rev. Sue Ann Yarbrough, SpiritCare Ministry to Seniors, Bee Friendly, San Leandro

Letters • 07-16-15 PDF  | Print |  E-mail

Better Check Your Water Bill For EBMUD ‘Estimate’


The drought has raised alarm and concern for all of us. As a citizen of San Leandro, I have been doing my part to conserve water. I’ve turned off my automatic sprinkler system and water by hand just enough to keep my browning lawn alive. We are also conserving water indoors washing dishes by hand and taking abbreviated showers.

Despite all our efforts to conserve I received a bill from EBMUD that was over three times the amount of my previous bill. It stated I was using an astonishing 760 gallons a day. Much of my new bill was calculated using the new “premium rate.”

I looked at my bill closely taking note of the current meter reading stated there. I went outside and pried off the lid and took a look at the meter. To my surprise the meter read 49 units less than what was stated on my bill. In other words I was over-billed 36,652 gal. or 564 gal. per day.

I called EBMUD. The person I spoke to suggested I must have a leak somewhere on my property. I explained that the bill showed more usage than what my meter indicated. After some “investigation” she stated that my current bill was an estimate. Apparently the meter was not actually read. Their estimate increased my bill by $224.13 from my previous bill, much of it at premium rates for water abusers.

So is it their policy to charge people using an estimate that does not take into account the efforts customers have made to conserve? After more discussion it was agreed that my bill should be lowered by $215.02. I’m wondering how many others are being billed using “estimates” that put them into the water abuser category.

— Steve Witt, San Leandro

Applauds City Council for Passing Pro-Union Pact


It’s not often that your publication has great news for regular folks like me, your headline on July 9 2015, was just that incredibly good news.

A community benefit agreement guarantees that San Leandro residents have a seat at the table when developers come to town. Local hiring and prevailing wage means that local workers will get money to spend in our city and in that way grow our economy allowing everyone to prosper.

You will get the un-informed anti-union rhetoric from the Fox news set as  predictable as the 7:30 a.m. BART train is late. I urge the readers to question the motivation of people who would give away public lands or public financing without asking for guaranteed benefits to San Leandro workers.

I applaud Jim Prola and the rest of the council. Now, lets get to work.

— Guillermo Elenes, San Leandro

Says Pro-Union Agreement Tosses Competitive Bidding


I can’t believe that the City Council unanimously approved the “Community Workforce Agreement” which will give the unions more power.

The unions will now have the power to screen which companies can bid on San Leandro contracts and this will throw competitive bidding right out the window.

The union says that they will make a “good faith effort” to hire companies that have 30 percent of their workforce living in San Leandro, which reminds me of the used car dealer that said “this car was owned by a little old lady who only drove it to church on Sundays.”

Who’s kidding who?

In addition, the Union must hire a San Leandro resident (apprentice) for every $5 million of the contract. Big deal, like that’s really going to put a dent in San Leandro’s unemployment.

I find it very interesting that only two other cities (Berkeley and Martinez) in the entire Bay Area have adopted this business policy, which makes me wonder what the other cities know now that our clueless City Council is about to go along with this hair-brained idea.

It appears that Councilman Jim Prola spearheaded this insane idea and it makes me wonder how much money the unions contributed to his campaign.

In addition, city business development manager Jeff Kay already acknowledged that this agreement will cost the city more money. Now I totally understand why the City of San Leandro wanted to boost our sales tax a few months ago to the highest level in the state. They wanted to do it to support the unions – and just look what that did to the city of Detroit.

— Brent Heath, San Leandro

Fears Trash Dumping Is Turning Ashland into a Slum


As I drive around the unincorporated Ashland area, I shake my head at all the litter and illegally dumped items – mattresses, tires, couches and chairs everywhere. Five years ago, Ashland was clean. So what happened?

Property managers, homeowners and stores have stopped cleaning up the sidewalks and streets and cutting overgrown vegetation in front of their buildings. Trash cans at almost every bus stop are overflowing with trash spilling onto the ground.

Homeless people toss garbage everywhere as they go through trash cans. Cigarette butts are strewn on the ground. And, the garbage and recycling companies don’t pick up trash that falls on the ground as they empty bins. They just leave it there and drive away.

The creek running through the unincorporated area, which used to be beautiful, is now littered with garbage and trash, as are the streets and area surrounding Bayfair Mall and the Bayfair theater, BART, the medical center and Walgreens.

Where is the pride in keeping the unincorporated area clean? It’s simple. If everyone were to keep their property clean and maintained, residents and visitors would use trash cans, and the cans would be picked up when they’re full, smokers would dispose of cigarette butts properly, and if people stop dumping items illegally, the unincorporated Ashland area would be clean and beautiful again! I don’t want to live in a slum, so please help to do your part.

— Avis Robinson, Ashland

‘Our Readers Remember’ Brought Back Many Memories


Thank you so much for the articles last week in “Our Readers Remember.” It brought back many memories, especially the one about the corn and squash, a trip we made each week when things were in season.

I enjoy reading the Times each week.

— Erma Lazzereschi, San Leandro



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