Showing posts from 2016

San Leandro Arts Gain National Attention

Truth is Beauty will soon be in San Leandro & we will have our first world class landmark. As Mayor, I had no role in selecting of Truth as Beauty as the artwork for the tech campus. That was a decision made by the developers. 
I did, however, insist in the course of the City's review and approval of the tech campus that the developers include a public art component. I advocated that every major public and private project that came before the City Council for approval should include public art. 
I was proud that the City Council in my last year as Mayor inserted supporting and celebrating the arts within its goals for San Leandro. This objective remains part of the present City Council's goals. The City Arts Commission of which I am a member is working with a consultant on a public arts master plan for San Leandro which will go the City Council for review and approval next year.

Review of San Leandro School Bond Measures A, B & M

The voters of San Leandro have passed three bond measures, starting with Measure A in 1997. It was a $53.8 million bond. The initial 12-year construction schedule was accomplished in 7 years.

Measure A served as the local match to obtain $33 Million in state grants, e.g. $33 million in free money for San Leandro schools for school construction projects including:

– New San Leandro High School Science and Technology Wing
– New John Muir Middle School Academic Wing 
– Bancroft Middle School Shop Renovation & Expansion 
– Modernization at Nine School Sites 
– District-Wide Seismic Upgrades (this was a major expense and critical to have accomplished following the Loma Prieta earthquake)
– Completely new Thomas Jefferson Elementary School (the only thing holding up walls of the original school were termites)

Measure B was approved in 2006. This was a $109 million bond that allowed the school district to receive an additional $28.5 million in state grants plus funds from other sources that brou…

Response To San Leandro Times False Story On School Bond Debt

The San Leandro Times published my letter in response to the paper's false and misleading story on school bond debt last week.  Here is the letter I submitted:
"'Nuclear Power Coming to SL.' That was a headline in the San Leandro Times five years ago. It was supposed to be an April Fool’s Day joke (though not published on April 1st).  I remember the story well because I was Mayor then.  Phone calls by irate residents flooded City Hall.  
Reading last week’s alarming front page article on school bond debt reminded of the nuclear power article.  It was so riddled with errors that the article is as close to reality as a nuclear power plant opening in San Leandro.
The factual premise of last week’s article was that payments we are making on Measure B, the 2006 school bond that funded the construction of the performing arts theater and Fred T. Korematsu campus at San Leandro High School, are not being allocated to pay off certain debt, called Capital Appreciation Bonds or CA…

Gigabit Fiber Connectivity to Homes in San Leandro: An Opportunity Lost

This week, I drove by the street I used to live on Bridge Road. It's behind Bancroft Middle School. 

A work crew for PG&E was digging a trench for laying new gas piping. It's a part of a project that has been ongoing for several months. Apparently the old gas lines have deteriorated and must be replaced for all homes along several streets.

What is not happening at the same time is the laying of conduit to connect households to Lit San Leandro, the City's ultra high speed internet. 
Lit San Leandro has been a game changer for San Leandro but it's impact will not be nearly as great as it could be if it is not extended to our residential neighborhoods. The major challenge is cost. It's very expensive to dig up streets. The fiber for Lit San Leandro has only been installed in business areas because conduit already had been laid in those areas to monitor traffic on our major streets by City engineering staff.

In 2012, the City Council adopted a San Leandro Commercial B…

Response to Questionnaire from City Council Candidate Ed Hernandez

Last month, I sent the four candidates for San Leandro City Council a questionnaire asking for their positions on local issues and information on their background.  Only Ed Hernandez responded.  He is running for City Council District 2, the seat currently held by Ursula Reed who terms out this this.  Bryan Azevdo, also running for City Council District 2, informed me that he would not be responding.  Likewise, Benny Lee and Pete Ballew, who are running unopposed for other district seats have not responded.

Below are Ed's responses. You can learn more about him at

Policy Questions
1. What is the most pressing issue facing San Leandro and how would you
address it?

The most pressing issue facing San Leandro, and the entire Bay Area is a
lack of housing for all income levels. To address the housing needs of San
Leandro we must ensure that any development at BART, in our Downtown,
and along our transit corridors are mixed-use developments.


Yes on San Leandro Schools Measure J1!

I am proud to serve as the co-chairperson of the Yes on Measure J1 campaign committee. We are a group of parents, teachers, administrators, students, and friends who recognize the critical importance of strong public schools to San Leandro.
What is Measure J1?
Measure J1 is a bond measure on the November 8, 2016 ballot to fund critical facility upgrades and improvements for San Leandro schools.
Why is Measure J1 necessary?
The State of California pays for the costs of running a school district, e.g. salaries for teachers and staff and school supplies.  But state tax revenue is not given to school districts for major construction projects to renovation and modernize school sites. These are called capital improvements and raising the funds for capital improvements falls on each community served by a school district.
Thanks to the generous support of San Leandrans, significant improvements have been made to our schools. New facilities have been built, and seismic safety upgrades have been…

New San Leandro Zoning Code Back At City Hall For Review

This Thursday, August 25th, at 7 pm in the City Council Chambers, the San Leandro Planning Commission will review and perhaps make recommendations to the City Council on the final San Leandro 2035 General Plan, final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and related Zoning Code and map changes (Zoning Update 2016). The City Council is set to review these documents on September 19th.

The Planning Commission agenda packet including staff reports are available on the City website at

Of interest to residents on the north end of town: City planners originally proposed re-zoning of properties between the fire station on Estudillo and Bancroft Avenues as Downtown Area 2 (or DA-2) properties from their present designation as Professional Office Buildings (or P).  

DA-2 zoning would have allowed 5-story mixed use multi-unit residential complexes (including one planned for the property on Bancroft Avenue opposite the middle school). The proposal reflec…

San Leandro's Electoral System: Time for Reform?

For those new to San Leandro, or voting for the first time this November, please vote on all city and school ballot measures. That way you will truly have an impact on our community. Races in San Leandro can be close - some seats and measures have been decided by 1 or less percent of the vote.

As background, the City of San Leandro is run by a Mayor and six City Council members. Together, theyform the City Council.

The Mayor is the presiding officer of City Council meetings and serves as the spokesperson for the City. However, the Mayor has no more authority than a City Council member when it comes to voting on matters - the Mayor has one vote as does each Council member.

The Mayor and City Council members are limited two consecutive, four year terms. Unlike at the state level, the City's term limits are not a lifetime restriction. A person could serve two terms, leave the Council for four years, and then run again. 
For the upcoming election, there are four candidates for 3 council s…

San Leandro City Council Questionnaire

I have sent all candidates running for City Council in San Leandro (including the ones without an opponent) a series of questions. I wish to make an informed choice in deciding whom to support. I have told them that their answers will guide my endorsement decisions. I believe their answers will also be of interest to the community. 

Candidates for office regularly complete questionnaires fromlabor, business and issue groups. Their answers, however, are kept confidential. The public has no knowledge as to what the candidates stated or promises they made. We are only told what the candidates want to tell us - often in the form of short, simple statements that border on slogans, not solutions to the issues we face. I want to change this process for our city. We, the voters, should also be able to ask candidates questions and receive answers as part of our due diligence in evaluating them and deciding whom to support. 

I will post the answers to my questionnaire after I receive them. I requ…

Estudillo/Bancroft Avenues Re-Zoning Update

Here is an update on the re-zoning issue along Estudillo and Bancroft Avenues that I have mentioned in earlier posts.
As background, City staff originally proposed to re-zone about 20 properties from their current designation of P or Professional office space (limited to 30 feet in height) to DA-2 or Downtown Area 2 (which includes mixed-use housing of up to 50 feet in height) in conjunction with the City's General Plan Update. Many of us objected to the re-zoning as inappropriate in height, use and density for properties in or close to a residential neighborhood. Mayor Pauline Cutter heard our concerns and took action. As a result, staff modified their recommendation. 
In a memo to the City Council that was shared with the public last week, Cynthia Battenberg, the City's Community Development Director, stated, "Following community input, staff is recommending that the P Professional zoning for the Downtown East area (the approximately 20 parcels on Estudillo Avenue and Ban…

Grand Jury Report On Eden Township Healthcare District

The Eden Township Healthcare District (ETHD), which covers San Leandro, no longer owns or operates any hospitals. It is running ads on social media claiming that we are in danger of "losing our vote." I don't know what vote the ETHD is referring to. All it does today is manage medical office properties and distributes some community funds. But it doesn't provide any healthcare services. 

The ETHD is running the ads because there is a bill in Sacramento (AB 2471) from Assembly member Bill Quirk to dissolve it. There is sound justification for the bill. This comes from the latest Alameda County Grand Jury report:  ETHD spends 88% of its resources managing its real estate holdings and only 12% on mission-related activities. With this balance of resource allocation, the district struggles to deliver (directly or indirectly) adequate healthcare services for all residents. There is minimal evidence of active, informed citizen participation in district affairs. Agency officia…

How To Follow The Money In San Leandro

Want to know whom gave campaign contributions to a local candidate? You don't have to file a public records request. State law allows anybody to view election documents, such as campaign statements or financial disclosures, by walking into a city clerk’s office and asking for them. 

Even better, thanks to the work of the San Leandro Clerk and IT staff, you can access these records online at

Honoring the Orlando Victims in San Leandro

Let's say no to hate and discrimination, honor those who perished in Orlando, and say yes to love and respect for our LGBTQ neighbors and friends on Saturday, June 18th, at 6:30 pm at Root Park in San Leandro (located at East 14th Street and Dan Niemi Way).

Follow up:  Thank you Brandon Brock, Council member Corina Lopez, Mayor Pauline Cutter, SFPD, the other organizers, and everyone that attended yesterday's rally/memorial for the victims of the Orlando massacre. It was San Leandro at its best!

Let's Not Shoot Ourselves In the Foot - New Zoning Proposals Will Backfire on San Leandro

To those that say wouldn't it be good if the City assisted in the creation of new, market-rate housing that would attract new residents and thereby generate demand for greater retail, shopping and dining options in San Leandro, my response is - yes, we can have this and without bringing Downtown San Leandro right up and into our residential neighborhoods on the northeast side of the city,
Take a look at
The maps show that city planners are seeking the re-zoning of multiple sites in the core of Downtown San Leandro - many of which are close to the BART station.
That is fine with me. I support new housing in our downtown. In fact, there is one development in Downtown San Leandro well advanced in the planning process that will bring in 60 high-end apartment units within walking distance of BART. There are also vacant lots within eyesight of the BART tracks that would support dense, new housing.
The City expects 15,000 new residents will live…

Proposed Changes To San Leandro Zoning Code Expand Downtown San Leandro To Residential Neighborhoods

We need to have a community conversation on the degree of development that should be permitted outside of San Leandro’s downtown.  Specifically, should buildings appropriate for our downtown be built next to residential neighborhoods?
For context, in 2007, after a multi-year process with extensive public input, the City Council adopted a Transit Oriented Development (“TOD”) Plan to "guide new development in downtown San Leandro for the next 20 to 30 years."  The plan’s objective is to channel the majority of new residential growth to downtown San Leandro, within walking distance of BART, thereby lessening residents’ dependence on cars.
As shown in this map at page 35 of the TOD Plan, a buffer of lower density professional, commercial and multi-unit housing was created between downtown San Leandro and the residential neighborhoods on the northeast side of the city.  

The buffer is reflected in the City's current zoning code (below).  Dense development, marked as Downtown Are…