Thursday, 23 May 2013 13:47
By Amy Sylvestri
San Leandro Times
Do you make the best tortillas in town? Maybe you have a killer candy recipe? Or maybe you want to take advantage of the city’s recent bee keeping ordinance and start bottling your own honey to sell.
You are in luck then, because the City Council unanimously passed a zoning amendment that will allow for many types of home-based food businesses in San Leandro.
These “cottage food operations” have a lot of regulations, from the types of food to the parking requirements of the homes they can be sold from, but the council sought to pass the ordinance Monday night to make it easier for entrepreneurs to get their businesses off the ground.
All of the foods must be in the category deemed “low risk” under state law. This includes, baked goods without cream or meat filings, candy, chocolate covered nuts and fruits, pies, trail mix, coffee, honey, and jam.
All the food and the home kitchen would be regulated by city and county health codes. And you would still require a business license from the city.
The city ordinance comes on the heels of a state law written by Los Angles Assemblyman Mike Gattos, who wrote to Governor Jerry Brown that “During these difficult economic times, California should do everything possible to allow individuals to provide for their families and assist with our economic recovery, and home-based food production can allow micro-entrepreneurs to prosper during times of otherwise limited economic opportunity by meeting the desires of local consumers.”
San Leandro has allowed home food businesses in the past under informal business license agreements, according to Sally Barros, the city’s senior planner.
Currently, there is one cookie baking operation in a San Leandro home, but more are expected once the ordinance is in place.
Councilman Benny Lee said he thinks the cottage food ordinance is a great opportunity for those looking to make a career change.
“I see this as a huge advantage to those who are trying to master their own destinies,” said Lee. “They could be successful and eventually grow a business in San Leandro.”
Thursday, 23 May 2013 13:44
By Jim Knowles
San Leandro Times
A lively scene commenced after school on Friday in front of San Lorenzo High, but this time it was the teachers making the noise.
Teachers in the San Lorenzo Unified School District are clamoring for a raise and pointing a finger at the school board and the superintendent.
They say the district is sitting on a 16 percent reserve fund but not reinstating recent cutbacks and refusing to spend on teachers and other employees.
“Superintendent Byas and the school board are sitting on a huge reserve while raising class size and laying off workers,” said teachers’ union president Donna Pinkney in a speech at the rally.
By holding 16 percent of the budget in reserve, the district is spending just 84 percent on educational programs, said Pinkney, who is a counselor at San Lorenzo High.
The district has cut school librarians, counselors and over 50 teachers, while Superintendent Byas is the seventh highest paid superintendent in the state, Pinkney said.
The teachers want a 5 percent raise. The school district is offering no raise this year, but a 2 percent raise for next year, plus a half percent “bonus” (or off schedule pay that’s just for one year).
State Assemblyman Bill Quirk also spoke at the rally, followed by a few teachers and a student speaker.
Quirk said more state money is available for schools because of Proposition 30 that passed in last November’s election to increase tax money for education.
“There is money for the schools this year,” Quirk told the teachers. “You’ve had years and years of cuts. Now the money is there to reduce class size, keep the buildings clean, and to get counselors back and librarians back.”
But Superintendent Dennis Byas, reached later by phone, replied that no districts in the county are giving a 5 percent raise. He said the highest raise in the county this year is 2 percent and many districts aren’t giving any raises this year.
Byas asked Assistant Superintendent for Businesses Services Lowell Shira to return a call asking about the district’s 16 percent reserve.
Shira said that a 2 percent raise to all employees next year, plus the half percent bonus, would eat up half the the 16 percent surplus over three years.
The San Lorenzo school board has a policy of keeping at least a 6 percent reserve, he said. So the district can’t afford to give the teachers a 5 percent raise.
“But if we get more money from the state we’ll be able to offer more,” Shira said.
The district is planning class-size reductions, going from 28 to 25 in kindergarten and first grade, and from 28 to 27 in second and third grades, Shira said.
San Lorenzo school board president Norman Fobert said that the district’s reserve fund is savings, not ongoing revenue, so the district has to be careful with it.
What money the district gets from Proposition 30 won’t be clear until next year, Fobert said. So next year, when the teachers contract is up, will be the best time to decide on a raise.
Fobert added that the state sometimes takes away money from somewhere else in the budget when new sources of money come in.
“We can’t step out too far on a limb,” Fobert said. “The state is already backing away off some of that. When they give out Proposition 30 money, they could take away money they were giving us before. That’s the way these things work with both the state and federal government.”
CAPTION: San Lorenzo school district teachers rallied in front of San Lorenzo High last Friday after school. The teachers want a 5 percent raise and lower class size.
PHOTO BY JIM KNOWLES
Thursday, 23 May 2013 13:42
The San Leandro Public Library will host a free interview seminar for midlife jobseekers, taught by Eileen Williams, on Thursday evening, June 6, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Main Library, 300 Estudillo Avenue in downtown San Leandro.
The workshop will cover:
• What to expect: the interviewer’s agenda and a typical interview format
• The critical nonverbal messages you’ll need to send
• How to anticipate and respond to questions so that you’ll highlight your skills as well as the added value you’ll bring to the position
• Insider tips for acing event-specific questions (behavioral-style interviews)
• Using examples that will wow them and accentuate your strengths
• How to leave the interview on a high note
Eileen Williams has 20 years of combined experience as a career and life transition counselor, job search specialist, university instructor, and writer.
As a nationally board certified counselor with a master’s degree in career development, she specializes in working with jobseekers in midlife, showing them the latest techniques for landing a job in the 21st century.
Williams has worked with thousands of older applicants and knows the most effective methods to overcoming the special challenges they face.
Her recently published book, Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, is packed with insider tips to teach baby boomers how to navigate today’s competitive job market.
Copies of this book will be available for sale at the seminar for $10 each.
For more information, call the Main Library Information Desk at 577-3971.
Thursday, 23 May 2013 13:41
The San Leandro Public Library and Ace Monster Toys present a free Arduino Microcontroller Computer Programming Workshop on Saturdays: June 1, 8, 15, and 22, from 1 to 4 p.m.
Arduino Microcontrollers are computers that can sense and control the physical world. In this hands-on, entry-level workshop, adults aged 18 and over will learn to program Arduino Microcontrollers to control lights, motors, servos, and much more.
No prior knowledge of programming or electronics is required.
The first three classes of the Arduino Computer hacker/maker workshop will be held at the San Leandro Main Library, 300 Estudillo Ave., San Leandro and the final class on June 22 will be held at Ace Monster Toys, 6050 Lowell St., Oakland.
Online registration for this free workshop is available at www.sanleandrolibrary.org.
The workshop is brought to you by the Millennial Academy, a library program designed by and for millennials, people aged 18 to 33.
The Millennial Academy events have been designed for millennials, but all adults 18 and over are welcome to attend.
The Millennial Academy is made possible through a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant from the California State Library.
For more information about the Arduino Microcontroller Computer Programming Workshop or the Millennial Academy, call Bill Sherwood at 577-7964.
Thursday, 23 May 2013 13:39
PHOTO COURTESY OF CARY RODDA
San Leandro School District Assistant Superintendent Song Chin-Bendib recently was named the 2013 Business Services Administrator of the Year by the Association of California School Administrators. Chin-Bendib manages the district’s finances and was selected from thousands of administrators from all over California for the honor.
Thursday, 23 May 2013 13:37
A man was hit and killed by a train near San Lorenzo High School last Wednesday afternoon at around 2:30 p.m.
Luis Sanchez, 59, was killed by an Amtrak Capitol Corridor train heading south, according to Sgt. J.D. Nelson of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.
Nelson said that Sanchez walked around the gates and stepped directly in front of the train without looking at the train at all, according to the conductor.
“We don’t know if this was done purposely or if it was an accident and we might not ever know,” said Nelson.
Nelson added that the gates were functioning properly and all the correct protocols were being used by Amtrak.
Sanchez was struck on the tracks near Lewelling Boulevard and Via Granada, the second person to be killed in that spot in a month – 15-year-old San Lorenzo High student Austin Price was killed there in April.
Price and some fellow students were playing chicken with an Amtrak train after school when he was killed.
There were 104 deaths in California resulting from trains hitting pedestrians in 2012, up 31 percent from the year before, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.
– By Amy Sylvestri
Thursday, 23 May 2013 13:36
By Amy Sylvestri
San Leandro Times
The City Council met with both the San Leandro and San Lorenzo school boards last month to give everyone an opportunity to catch up with what is happening with the city’s schools.
This was the second annual schools/city meeting – before last year, officials had not all gotten together to talk at the same time in over a decade.
On the agenda was early childhood education, how schools can benefit from the Lit San Leandro internet loop, and how to keep schools safe.
San Leandro “Chief Innovation Officer” Deborah Acosta told the school districts about the Lit San Leandro broadband loop. She said it is important to schools not only because they may eventually tap into it and get faster internet, but because if all goes according to plan, new tech businesses will be coming to San Leandro soon.
New businesses mean new employees, and those families will have children that go to local schools.
“There is a ton of data moving though San Leandro, literally at the speed of light,” said Acosta. “Cities that aren’t thinking about this are going to be left in the dust.”
San Leandro Police Captain Ed Tracy spoke about school safety and what would happen in the case of a school shooting.
“To put on blinders to the possibility does us all a disservice,” said Tracy.
Tracy told the school officials that if there is an active shooter in the school, the first thing you should do is evacuate if it can be done safely. If that’s not possible you should hide. And if hiding is not possible and there are no other options, you should take action.
Tracy acknowledged that in some situations it wouldn’t be possible to act, but thinking ahead is important in any case – fire drills save lives even if they don’t stop fires, so having a plan about a shooter can mitigate the harm done.
Tracy said that the SLPD is planning two “active shooter” drills for over the summer, including one with teachers.
Thursday, 23 May 2013 13:32
The children had a fun visit to City Hall last month to learn how San Leandro is run
By Amy Sylvestri
San Leandro Times
City Hall looked more like a school playground last month, as dozens of kids visited for “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day,” a national event that celebrated its 20th anniversary this year.
The sons and daughters of San Leandro city employees got to see what their parents do all day and learn what makes San Leandro run.
The kids got hands-on demonstrations from the police and fire departments, as well as the public works department – they showed the students how the street sweeper works and how they use cherry-pickers to repair streetlights.
Then the police motorcycle officers pulled up and let the kids put on helmets and pose for pictures on their bikes – a few even made some announcements over the loudspeakers.
“They are really loving it,” said Jennifer Crosby a San Leandro police department crime prevention officer. Her two daughters Jordyn and Jada were the first to hop on the motorcycles.
Another highlight was when the kids got to put on fire department gear and learn how to handle a “confined space rescue” – what would happen if someone was trapped in a small space following an earthquake, fire, or other disaster.
“I didn’t know how dangerous is was going into those small spaces,” said Rachael Gurule, whose mom Rita is an accountant for the city.
“We’ve learned a lot about tactical gear and some people put it on. It was cool,” added Kat Vihracheff.
Vihracheff’s mom Doreen Bueno works in the City Manager’s office and helped organize the day. And Bueno not only planned the festivities, she participated – she was one of the volunteers who got strapped into a fire fighter’s uniform.
Inside City Hall, the kids heard a talk from Mayor Stephen Cassidy, learned about the city’s elaborate computer system and saw how the city’s engineers plan streets and manage traffic.
Later, they all took a tour of the SLPD jail and even got locked up behind bars for a few minutes.
“It’s always a really fun, exciting day,” said Bueno. “Everyone had a good time.”
CAPTION: Jordyn and Jada Crosby got to check out San Leandro police officer Chris Albert’s motorcycle as part of the annual “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” at City Hall. The kids also got to check out a street sweeper and talked to the mayor.
PHOTO BY AMY SYLVESTRI
Thursday, 23 May 2013 13:29
By Amy Sylvestri
San Leandro Times
The annual election of the vice mayor by the City Council is usually a quick and routine matter, but things got a bit heated at Monday night’s meeting when Councilwoman Diana Souza expressed her disappointment with not getting the nod.
Souza is entering the final year of her last term on the City Council and this was her last chance at being vice mayor.
Instead, outgoing Vice Mayor Michael Gregory nominated District 6 Councilman Jim Prola, who won by a 4-to-3 vote.
Dissenting were Souza, Ursula Reed, and Benny Lee.
The job of the vice mayor is mainly to fill in for the mayor – chairing City Council meetings when he or she is unable to attend and performing other duties when the mayor cannot.
The City Council votes on a new vice mayor to serve a 1-year term each spring.
No one said anything immediately after Prola’s election, but later in the meeting, Souza brought the topic back up.
“Many of you know I have not been vice mayor,” said Souza. “I would have embraced the opportunity.”
Souza went on to say that she was okay with not being elected vice mayor by her colleagues because she does not want to be a part of what she called a “current climate of conformity rather than collaboration” on the City Council.
“Some say, ‘That’s just politics,’ but that’s not my politics,” said Souza.
Souza said that she hopes the council will eventually “reevaluate the process” of selecting the vice mayor.
In many cities, the vice mayor position is rotated and no vote is taken. Mayor Stephen Cassidy said they could look into doing that in San Leandro or maybe appoint a vice mayor based on seniority in the future.
“I know this can be divisive,” Cassidy said.
Souza also addressed Prola, saying her comments were not a reflection of his qualifications.
Reed, who also voted against Prola, also used her comment time to speak to Prola and said she believes he will do a good job.
“You have my support,” Reed told Prola. “My vote was not against you. During City Council terms there is enough time to have everyone serve, but Souza didn’t have a turn and this was her last chance. I know that you will serve our city well.”
This is the second time that Gregory nominated Prola for the job, but the first time he was successfully elected. Gregory has been vice mayor twice.
And this is the second time Souza didn’t get the job, though she came closer last year when she lost by a 4-to-3 vote.
At Monday night’s meeting, Prola didn’t address Souza’s complaints, but pledged to do his best for San Leandro.
“I want to thank those who voted for me and I promise to work hard to gain the approval of those who didn’t,” said Prola. “Together we can work to make this a great city.”
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