Navy to investigate fire suppression foam contamination

When an airplane is coming in for a belly landing or has an engine on fire, the only way to prevent the entire plane from becoming engulfed in flames is by dousing the runway or the plane with fire suppression foam.  Navy firefighters were trained in the use of fire suppression foam near the airplane runways at Alameda Point.

Over the past two decades, there has been one bad news story after another about the foam’s toxic ingredients contaminating drinking water.  These same toxic ingredients are also found in common consumer products.  The Centers for Disease Control estimates that as many as 95 percent of the population have traces of these cancer-causing, endocrine-system-disrupting chemicals in their body. 

That’s partly because consumer products with the same chemical compounds, such as water repellant outdoor wear, carpets, food packaging, and even cosmetics, are still on the market.  Some household brand names that pioneered the marketing of products with the harmful chemicals, like Scotchgard and Teflon, have been reformulated and claim to be safe.  Environmental advocacy groups like Earthjustice are not convinced.

As the science about the human health effects has become more compelling and public awareness so great, the military is now embarking on a cleanup program at active and former military bases, including Alameda Point.

Continue reading “Navy to investigate fire suppression foam contamination”

New housing law hampers economic development at Alameda Point

A new state law that took effect in January 2020 has stymied the City’s plan for commercial development on a plot of land at Alameda Point.  Assembly Bill No. 1486 requires cities, counties, special districts, and the state to first offer any and all “surplus” land to affordable housing developers before it can be leased for more than one year or sold.  This legislation amended the Surplus Lands Act and, unbeknownst to the city when they supported the bill, swept in former military bases.    

The city had received proposals from 10 commercial developers as a result of its marketing campaign in 2019.  Each applicant was willing to pay at least the minimum listing price of $36.5 million for 22 acres in the Enterprise District and provide a construction timeline.  The acreage is within the larger commercial and light industrial zone adjacent to Main Street, and includes the self-storage facilities.  This new law meant that the City was unable to proceed with the selection process.

“It’s ironic,” said Nanette Mocanu, Assistant Director of Base Reuse & Community Development.  “The City is a proponent for affordable housing and supported this legislation.  We and many other communities were caught off guard when the legislation was applied to leasing and base reuse properties,” said Mocanu.  “Cities across the state are working to find solutions to the unintended consequences of this legislation.” 

Continue reading “New housing law hampers economic development at Alameda Point”

Mismanaged VA project stumbles along, officials remain silent

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) healthcare facility and cemetery project at Alameda Point still has not broken ground, a decade after the first round of Congressional funding.  Public officials appear to look away.

The latest setback comes with the VA having to re-do the contract for constructing the wetland mitigation plan.  For unknown reasons, in November 2020, less than four months after the VA hired a company to perform the wetland work for $2.37 million, that company is out of the picture.  The VA is now trying to find other companies with the same engineering skillset.  The actual competitive bidding process will follow.  The VA estimates the wetland project could now cost between $5 million and $10 million.  Continue reading “Mismanaged VA project stumbles along, officials remain silent”

Artisan bakery bringing in the dough for social good

A new artisan bakery with a noble mission is coming to Alameda.  Firebrand Artisan Breads of Oakland will be moving most of its production facilities to a renovated warehouse at Alameda Point in the coming months, bringing most of its 90 employees and hiring more. 

Customers know this bakery by the taste of its gourmet baked goods and deli selections.  Employees know this bakery by the taste of a life-changing opportunity for a good job. The company will employ up to 150 people striving to overcome employment barriers, such as previously being homeless and previously incarcerated. Continue reading “Artisan bakery bringing in the dough for social good”

Saildrone launches world’s largest deep ocean exploration drone

News Release from Alameda Point company Saildrone:

ALAMEDA, Jan 11, 2021 – Saildrone, Inc. has launched a 72 foot (22 m) version of its uncrewed surface vehicles, known as saildrones. Powered by wind and solar energy, saildrones are capable of extreme-duration missions of up to 12 months in the open ocean. This latest and largest version, the first in the Surveyor class of USVs, is called the Saildrone Surveyor, and carries sonar equipment capable of seafloor mapping down to 7,000 m.

Enhanced seabed mapping is vital for the security, safety, and economic health of nation states, and is critical to the growth of the “Blue Economy,” which, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), is valued at $1.5 trillion a year and creates the equivalent of 31 million full-time jobs.

Coinciding with the start of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, the launch of the Saildrone Surveyor presents a paradigm shift in enhanced seabed mapping, which is currently done with very large and expensive manned ships. The Surveyor, uncrewed and powering its robust sensor suite by harvesting renewable energy, delivers an equivalent survey capability, but at a fraction of the cost and carbon footprint of a traditional survey ship. Continue reading “Saildrone launches world’s largest deep ocean exploration drone”

Dune Restoration, Shoreline Project Completed

The East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) completed its beach and dune improvement project at Alameda Point in December 2020.   The complete facelift comes on the heels of the city upgrading the nearby boat ramp.  The area is accessible from Central Avenue next to Encinal High School.

The beach is a popular launch site for non-motorized watercraft, such as kayaks, outrigger canoes, and paddle boards.  The EBRPD project has greatly enhanced recreational functionality by providing easier access to the water from the parking lot down to the beach.  The new landscaping has also improved the overall aesthetics of the shoreline. Continue reading “Dune Restoration, Shoreline Project Completed”