Letters For January 16, 2008 

Readers sound off on Alameda politics and development, the research of Mina Bissell, and Schilling Gardens.

"Alameda Becomes a Destination," Feature, 12/19

Defamation Destination

In her article, "Alameda Becomes a Destination" Kathleen Richards mentions my litigation against City of Alameda Transportation Commissioner John Knox White. But she neglected to mention that the court also dismissed an "anti-SLAPP" motion filed by Mr. White, through which he attempted to have the case summarily dismissed without consideration and his attorney's fees and lost wages reimbursed to him. The court held that I had presented a prima facie case of defamation and appropriately denied Mr. White's motion. While I learned that it is extraordinarily difficult to successfully prosecute a defamation case in California, Mr. White and his posse of cyber-bullies learned it can still be very expensive to falsely implicate someone in criminal behavior.

David Howard, Alameda

It's Schizoid, But It's Home

Your article overlooks the first portion of the military property already under development, the NAS Fleet Industrial Supply Center, where the Bayport residential project is near completion and additional mixed-use facing Jack London is planned. Included will be the office headquarters for Clif Bar. Really good water transportation between the retail on both sides of the estuary might be a win-win on many levels, including traffic and retail dollars. It's a mystery to this observer why all the new residential loft dwellers along the estuary haven't to date transformed JLS from "floundering" to vibrant. If Oak to Ninth is the missing link for success we are in deep doo-doo.

Alameda's mini-Auto Row is gradually withering and it too has been a cash cow, but we were always overshadowed by Oakland, not competition to Oakland on that account.

One objection by opponents of our new theater is that we can't compete with the Jack London and other East Bay screenage. It remains to be seen if there will be such a thing as too much success for Park Street. Right now it's pretty smooth sailing to cross the estuary and pop into the JLS parking structure. Our access is more restricted and our screen seating more limited.

We are a little schizoid. People here complain that we lack on island retail options available in Walnut Creek and Emeryville, but many are also critical of development in those locations as being unsuitable for The Island.

Your article just scratches the surface, and it requires a new resident quite an effort to get up to speed on all the history and detail. As example, new person or outsider will usually immediately pronounce how obvious it is that we need a new estuary crossing, and then you can spend a half-hour trying to give the history of that discussion going back to the announcement of base closure in 1993 and why it is economically and logistically prohibitive.

Mark Irons, Alameda

"Thinking Outside the Cell," Feature, 12/12

It Takes a System

Terrific piece. The Radisky quote re narrowly focused research made an important point. I once was at Asilomar when the opioid researchers and the cannabinoid researchers were holding simultaneous but separate conferences and was amazed at the absence of cross talk (especially given that the two receptors systems engage in cross talk). There's an analogy to be made to politics, where all our single-issue "activist" groups focus on their given cells and molecules while the organism — the society as a whole, the socioeconomic SYSTEM — is never analyzed or understood (the prerequisite for a cure). The fake-left leaders would have us believe that they'll meet someday in a room to create a better society. But that elitist approach won't get us to justice any more than it will get us to an understanding of cancer.

Fred Gardner, Alameda

Exciting Ideas

As a regular reader of the East Bay Express, I have seen your articles many times. I'd like to let you know that I am especially impressed by your recent profile of Mina Bissell and your elegant description of her work. I'm convinced that you're a very talented science writer, and I will follow your future work with great interest. I'm a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst practicing in Berkeley and San Francisco. I have long had an interest in extracellular mechanisms in relation to the nervous system, and I found it quite exciting to consider the ideas opened up in your article.

Charles Fisher, Berkeley

"Friends in High Places," Water Cooler, 12/12

Many Who?

I sincerely wonder where these "many" in the Gold Coast neighborhood — who welcome a 42-story, luxury high-rise (which "many" will never see the inside of) — are lurking. Not one person I have spoken with in the Gold Coast neighborhood is against development; however, they want that development to respect and reflect the character and style of the area, and have some affordability. Not one unit of this development is slated to be in the affordability range of most Oaklanders.

They also want the city to make serious efforts to preserve what remains of our historic culture and green spaces. A place's character is, in large measure, defined by its history. Lose it and we move closer to becoming a faceless and soulless society. The city blew the donation offer of the Schilling Gardens. Their economic evaluation was essentially no evaluation.

As a last comment, I'm wondering why anyone would be willing to potentially sacrifice a park, a historically designated and unique urban lake, the oldest bird sanctuary in the nation, and a historic garden for a 42-story luxury high-rise, which could be sited on one of the several asphalt-covered parking lots located within one to three blocks of the Schilling Gardens site. There are many ways to realize economic benefit from development. You don't need to build a 42-story high-rise that negatively affects a neighborhood and destroys a historic garden to do so.

Antonio May, Oakland

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