Showing posts from 2017

Review of 1388 Bancroft Project Before San Leandro Planning Commission

Here is an update on the proposed 73-unit apartment complex development for 1388 Bancroft Avenue.The project violates the Zoning Code.The only way it can be built, as proposed, is for a majority of the City Council to change the Zoning Code.
The photo of site above was taken on Joaquin Avenue looking at the parking lot of 1388 Bancroft, the neighboring homes, and Bancroft Middle school. The proposed 47 to 53-foot apartment complex will be both taller than the telephone poll in the foreground (by a good 15 feet) and the middle school in the background (by 20 feet).Thirteen foot car stackers will extend along the property line with the neighboring homes, exceeding the height of the current fence by six feet.

Specifically, the developer wants to change the property's designation under the Zoning Code from a Professional Office District to Downtown Area 3 (which allows for much greater density and requires less parking spaces).
Downtown Area 3 is a designation for the center core of Dow…

City staff analysis of 1388 Bancroft Project

For those interested in the proposed rezoning of the parcel along Bancroft Avenue between Estudillo and Joaquin Avenues (1388 Bancroft) and plan to construct a 73-unit apartment complex, I highly recommend reading the proposed findings of fact drafted by City planners for the Planning Commission's review on Thursday night. The findings start at page five of this document: The findings are devastating to the project. Here is just a sample of the findings: 1. The proposed re-zoning of the site as DA-3 property is inappropriate and inconsistent with the General Plan because the rezoning “would enable a higher and greater intensity development than designated. The DA-3 zoning designation is specified for the inner core of the Downtown rather than on the outlying and perimeter areas.” (page 5). 2. The proposed rezoning detracts from character of surrounding neighborhoods by…

City Staff Recommend Denial of Proposed Bancroft Apartment Complex

As many of you know, a developer is seeking to change the zoning of office buildings on Bancroft between Estudillo and Joaquin to Downtown Area 3 ("DA 3") property in order for him to construct a nearly 50-foot apartment complex consisting of 72 two-bedroom units and one three bedroom unit. The project is expected to generate 500 daily car trips. The parking lot for complex will have 146 parking spaces, including 13-foot car stackers positioned right next to neighboring homes. Also of note, there will be no access to the parking lot on Bancroft Avenue. The parking will be gated and accessible only from Estudillo and Joaquin Avenues. Because of higher traffic volumes along Estudillo Avenue, however, the Estudillo driveway is proposed to be limited to egress only. That means car traffic on Joaquin Avenue will increase significantly as residents and visitors driving to the apartment complex parking lot must enter from Joaquin Avenue. City staff has issued a report recomm…

What should be done when a development violates new pro-housing provisions of a zoning code?

In a recent OpEd in the NY Times on the Bay Area housing crisis, Enrico Moretti, a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, wrote,"Some restrictions make sense: Nobody wants skyscrapers poking up among Victorian houses, and nobody wants to tear down historical buildings. But many others don’t: There are scores of empty parking lots in San Francisco and Oakland that can’t be built on because of political opposition." Moretti concluded: Bay Area "urban progressives must moderate their reflexive opposition to all new market-based housing." I agree. However, knee jerk opposition to new housing has not been a characteristic of San Leandrans. We have welcomed new housing. Just look at the large affordable housing complex (called the Marea Alta) across from the downtown San Leandro BART station. Local and state tax revenues paid for the building. Hundreds of new market rate housing units in the planning or construction stage in San Leandro, …

Update On Proposed 5-Story Apartment Complex at 1388 Bancroft in San Leandro

Nov 7th, 7pm: Community meeting at the San Leandro Main Library, lecture auditorium. Nov 16th 7pm: Planning Commission meeting at City Hall with 1388 Bancroft on the agenda.A developer has proposed constructing a 73-unit, nearly 5 stories tall apartment complex, with parking for 146 vehicles, including 64 car stackers. The proposal is in violation of the San Leandro Zoning Code which was comprehensively updated just last year. The site extends a full block on Bancroft Avenue between Estudillo and Joaquin Avenues. The project is immediately across from, and will tower over, Bancroft Middle School and neighboring homes. This message is from Dave Ruedi and Lindsay White on Joaquin Avenue and Debbie and Evan Adams on Estudillo Avenue. We are the homeowners next to the property located at 1388 Bancroft Avenue, which is across Estudillo from Bancroft Middle School. We'd like to update you on the latest news. First, despite twice receiving extensive objections to his proposal from Ci…

Preview The Davis Street Wellness Center On Thursday, Sept. 28th

The Davis Street Wellness Center, likely the first medical cannabis dispensary to open in San Leandro should it receive final approval from the City, is hosting a preview of the facility on Thursday, September 28th. Dr. John Oram, Chief Executive Officer of the Wellness Center, will give a presentation on the center’s unique social justice model, answer questions and showcase the facility design and layout for the center. Attendees can questions and offer feedback. The free, public meeting will occur on Thursday, September 28, 2017, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the Davis Street Family Resource Center (“Davis Street”), located at 3081 Teagarden Street in San Leandro. When it begins operations, the Wellness Center will charge patients on a sliding fee schedule based on income level. Discounts will also be provided to veterans. The Wellness Center will operate in partnership with and financially support the non-federally funded basic needs programs and services of the Davis Street.

City Council Meeting On Honoring Former Council member Surlene Grant on Monday, Sept. 25th

I support the effort first proposed by community leader Bernard Ashcraft and advocated by former City Council member Ursula Reed to name a public plaza or other location in honor of former City Council member Surlene Grant, the first African American elected to the San Leandro City Council.

On Monday, September 25th, at 6 p.m. at San Leandro City Hall in the Sister Cities Room (right next to City Council Chambers) the Mayor and two Council members will review the proposal. Please come and share your views with the City Council. For the reasons why I support honoring Surlene, please read my blog post at

Let States And Cities Establish Their Own Cannabis Laws

Throwback to Summer 2013: I was one of 18 U.S. mayors that co-sponsored a resolution calling on the federal government to respect state and local cannabis laws. The resolution was presented at the annual meeting of the US Mayors and adopted with bipartisan support.  I was quoted in press reports stating: “The prohibition on marijuana has been ineffective and counterproductive. Voters in states and cities that wish to break the stranglehold of organized crime over the distribution and sale of marijuana in their communities by legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana should have the option of doing so.”
The need for local control is even more imperative today. The restraint established by Congress in 2014 on the Department of Justice from destroying patient access to medical marijuana by criminally prosecuting cannabis cultivators and dispensaries nationwide expires at the end of September 2017.  This article explains what's happening:…

How California Women Won The Right To Vote: Lecture by Elaine Elinson

In 1911, California passed Amendment 8, granting women the right to vote in state elections almost a decade before the 19th Amendment provided women's suffrage throughout the U.S. On August 26, 2017, in San Leandro, noted author Elaine Elinson spoke on How California Women Won The Right To Vote as part of the Women's Equality Day Celebration at the San Leandro Museum and Casa Peralta.

Elinson is the co-author of "Wherever There's a Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers, and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California." The book tells the story of how freedom and equality have grown in California, from the gold rush right up to the precarious post-9/11 era. You can learn more about the book and Elinson's other writings at The event was co-sponsored by the San Leandro Public Library, Community Impact Lab and OSIsoft. I recorded the video.

Come To San Leandro For The Best Craft Beer in America

Love craft beer? There is a small but mighty city in the East Bay I want to introduce you to. It's called San Leandro. 

You have to come visit us this weekend (Sat. Aug. 26th). Both Drake's & 21st Amendment are hosting celebrations.  

For details visit

And while you are in town, also stop by Cleophus Quealy.

San Leandro Should Honor Former City Council Member Surlene Grant

The national news can be so disheartening. Hatred and prejudice against African Americans, Muslims, Jews, immigrants and transgender persons (to name but a few groups), while always present, are like types of cancers that have metastasized across America this year.
Let’s act, right here in San Leandro, to change this storyline. Specifically, I support the effort to name a public plaza or other location in honor of former City Council member Surlene Grant. This proposal was first raised by community leader Bernard Ashcraft and advocated by former City Council member Ursula Reed at several City Council meetings in 2016.

The first African American elected to the San Leandro City Council, Grant’s election set an important precedent, opening the doors of City Hall to persons historically disenfranchised. Today, the majority of City Council members are persons of color. Grant spearheaded the city’s first ordinance requiring affordable housing in the construction of new, for-sale residentia…

Contradictions in San Leandro's Medical Marijuana Dispensary Licensing Process

The San Leandro City Council imposed a requirement on the Davis Street Wellness Center, one of the successful applicants to open a medical marijuana dispensary in San Leandro, to have its plans to open a dispensary approved the Board of Zoning Adjustments within a year of receiving its license. This made no sense, particularly because the same requirement was not imposed on the two other entities that received dispensary licenses. Davis Street has been diligently looking at potential sites for the dispensary and submitted its plans to the City months ago. Finding an appropriate site given limitations under the City zoning code is not a straightforward process. Plus the review process takes time particularly if the Mayor and City Council members seek to influence the process. If there should be any time limit, it should apply once a dispensary's plans to operate are approved. At that point, the opening of the facility is within the control of the operator. And it is in the City…

Recreational Cannabis Should Be Legal Under Federal Law

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker is proposing a far-reaching bill that would both legalize marijuana at the federal level and encourage states to legalize it locally through incentives.Adult recreational marijuana use will be legal in California next January, and a majority of states permit use of medical marijuana. Over 30 million Americans regularly use cannabis. 

Why are we still criminalizing its use at the federal level? 

I support this new legislation.

Transgender Rights: No One Gets Left Behind On The Path To Equal Rights

Flags are deeply powerful symbols. I flew the LGBT Pride Flag at San Leandro City Hall during the US Supreme Court arguments over marriage equality to show San Leandro's support for the full recognition of the rights of LGBT persons. Our action led Oakland, Berkeley and other cities to follow San Leandro's lead. 

Today, transgender persons are under attack by President Trump. To show solidarity with the transgender community the Dolan Law Firm, the law firm that I work at, is displaying the Transgender Pride Flags. Far too many transgender persons have suffered pain and emotional turmoil from being marginalized and treated unfairly because of their gender identity.

Why I'm supporting San Leandro Schools Measure B

Here is a message I sent to friends and neighbors on why I'm supporting Measure B and request that they do so too: I have always believed that strong schools make for a strong city. But from serving as Mayor of San Leandro, I came to appreciate fully that the safety, prosperity and quality of life in San Leandro are firmly linked to the quality of our public schools. San Leandrans have benefitted tremendously by financially supporting our local schools. Overcrowding at thehigh school was eliminated, a beautiful theater used by students and the community was opened, and necessary seismic upgrades were completed. School bond measures, however, can only be used for the construction, renovation and modernization of school facilities. To generate local funds to attract and retain quality teachers, support core academic programs and reduce class sizes, school districts in California have only one option: a parcel tax. That is what San Leandro has done. Our local parcel tax, however, is …

Developer Again Attempting To Circumvent San Leandro Zoning Code

This message was posted on by Lindsay White on August, 1, 2017:

The proposed 73-unit apartment complex is 5 stories tall, has parking for 146 vehicles and includes 64 car stackers. It seriously violates the existing zoning code. This message is from Lindsay White and Dave Ruedi on Joaquin Avenue and Debbie and Evan Adams on Estudillo Avenue. We are the homeowners next to the property located at 1388 Bancroft Avenue, which is across Estudillo from Bancroft Middle School.

In 2016, a developer proposed building a 50-foot (think 5 stories) apartment complex with 51 units on this site. The proposal was opposed by many in the community. This year, the same developer has submitted a new proposal for an even bigger, denser complex, featuring 73 units and car stackers for parking. The City’s zoning code only permits a maximum of 31 units at the site.

The proposed complex towers over Bancroft Middle School and would be, by far, the tallest building in San Leandro between Bancroft Ave…

Comment on the Misguided Negative Campaign Against Davis Wellness Center

Dear Friends:

When I served as Mayor from 2011 through 2014, by far the most consistent and outspoken opponent against San Leandro allowing providers of medical marijuana to open a dispensary was Council member Diana Souza. She voted against every any proposal involving medical marijuana claiming crime, reduced property values and youth drug addiction would all come with any dispensaries.
Fast forward to the present, one the greatest proponents of medical marijuana in San Leandro today is Ms. Souza.  However, her support is focused on one company that obtained a license for a dispensary in San Leandro and for which she serves as a consultant.  Ms. Souza has been vehement in opposing the effort by another provider, Davis Wellness Center, to establish its dispensary, and has repeatedly disparaged persons associated with the Davis Wellness Center and Davis Street Family Resource Center, a separate legal entity which for decades had aided the unprivileged in San Leandro and our surrounding …