Navy loses battle over street names

Navy loses battle over street names

Dave Boitano
Alameda Landing

The United States Navy may have won its battles in the Pacific during World War II, but it suffered something of a setback Monday night before the Planning Board.

The board decided that when it comes to the naming of streets in Alameda Landing's planned residential neighborhoods, prominent citizens will take precedence over Naval vessels.

Many of the streets on nearby Alameda Point bear the names of famous World War II naval battles like Midway and Coral Sea. One is even named after the now defunct Pan American Airlines, which flew passengers from Alameda to the Far East on seaplanes during the 1930s.

Alameda Landing's developer had proposed a number of street names for the former Naval annex, a list that included the former aircraft carriers Langley, Constellation, Bennington and Yorktown. Other street names proposed by the developer included Mason, Mercy, Mosley and Patriot.

But Planning Board member John Knox White felt the street names should reflect citizens who were instrumental in Alameda’s history and culture. On his personal website, Knox White asked residents to submit the names of local individuals and institutions for consideration as street names.

He compiled a list and submitted it to the board.

Proposed street names included Barbara Manning, the first African American administrator in the Alameda Unified School District; Encinal High School teacher and track coach Don Grant; Congressman George Miller; and musician Louis A. McCall Sr.

Along with individuals, the list also included the Huichiun Indian tribe, which occupied the area for hundreds of years; the Arusia Café, which served sailors and packers who worked at the old Del Monte warehouse; and the Bohol Circle, which aided the Filipino community.

Knox White said the new names would be more reflective of the community, though he acknowledged the developer's effort to come up with street names.

“I appreciate the effort but it does not represent the community in the way the community should be represented,” he said.

Vice President Mike Henneberry noted that the names of aircraft carriers were in keeping with the area’s history.

The board approved the list of names and will pass them along to an Alameda Point advisory committee for inclusion in the development plan. Given that they reflect the local community, board staff member Andrew Thomas said he did not anticipate any opposition from the committee.

More names will be needed, and Knox White said that he had additional names for consideration.


Submitted by Michelle R. (not verified) on Tue, Apr 29, 2014

Phyllis Diller Drive gets my vote!

Submitted by call me perplexed (not verified) on Tue, Apr 29, 2014

Are you serious ? A school administrator ? A politician (from his website - born in Richmond, lives in Martinez, no mention of Alameda at all) ? What genius came up with names like these ? And then an Indian tribe, a café, and a Filipino group. Are we really honoring history or just trying to come up with the most politically correct names we can dig from some obscure files ? Naval related names would be appropriate for this area. By the way, what exactly did George Miller do for Alameda ? Let's not be silly in coming up with these names. We are not Berkeley.

Submitted by baker (not verified) on Tue, Apr 29, 2014

I went to Wikipedia to find some new names of famous Alameda residents:
I like Debbi Fields (Mrs. Fields of the cookie fame) or Harold Camping (Mr. End of the World). Maybe we could name a dead end after him.

Submitted by luczai (not verified) on Tue, Apr 29, 2014

I wouldn't want to have to sell a house on Bohol Circle, I can tell you that. I thought the Navy was on the right track, although I think the vessels should have been all ones built in Alameda. This would have honored thousands of our citizens who built them and thousands more who served aboard them, instead of just somebody's dad who did something once.

Submitted by theresa (not verified) on Tue, Apr 29, 2014

I live on the base, renting a house there for several years. Part of what makes it special is the Navy ties. This is a very poor decision and a reflection of the Board being very out of touch.

Submitted by David Foote (not verified) on Tue, Apr 29, 2014

I don't think the Navy has a dog in this fight. They have many things to do (e.g. defending the free world) other than involving themselves in street naming kerfuffels in cities where they once had bases. Perhaps the headline should be "Developer Loses Battle Over Street Names". But my guess is the developer doesn't really care either - - - he gets his money regardless, and perhaps ship names were the first things that popped into mind, similar to the use of merchant ship names in the Marina Village area for ships built in Alameda shipyards. This is why we pay big bucks to the planning board to keep all this stuff sorted out, and I trust them to do so.

Submitted by tom h. (not verified) on Tue, Apr 29, 2014

I vote for a Tom Hanks theme area:
Forest Gump Drive. Big St. Da Vinci Ave. Capt. Phillips Rd. Houston We Have a Problem St. Wilson Rd. etc. etc. etc.

Submitted by Naming Nonsense (not verified) on Tue, Apr 29, 2014

I would not want more streets named after people in Alameda. Hopefully, the Alameda Historical Advisory Board will not approve this slate of proposed street names. I love Denise Shelton's suggestions on John Knox White's website to name the streets after ships built in Alameda (i.e. White Sands Way, Ardent Avenue, Buckthorne Terrace, Competent Court, Sentinel Street, Starling Street, Rescuer Way, Devastator Drive, Ebony Avenue, Pawnee Place). Classier, historically relevant and thematic. Why can we not honor Alameda's history as a nautical and navy town? Our city flag does.

Submitted by William (not verified) on Tue, Apr 29, 2014

Come on. Alameda's history is all about the Navy and our role in WWII and beyond. It is an insult for anyone to suggest we name streets after people who were nice, but don't deserve this level of recognition. Naming the streets after ships built here or stationed here is an excellent idea. It appears that John White is simply setting the stage for his name to be used 30 years from now. Can we get serious about this issue?

Submitted by Karen (not verified) on Tue, Apr 29, 2014

I was disappointed to hear we were not naming the Alameda Landing streets after ships that were built and/or stationed here. I think we missed a golden opportunity to preserve Alameda’s nautical history.

Submitted by Sylvia Gibson on Tue, Apr 29, 2014

I love how the ship names sound. Let's not forget the USS Enterprise, stationed here 1972-1978. Its silhouette and stately presence are etched in my memory. Enterprise Avenue. Each ship represents hundreds of Alameda families. I went to school with so many Navy brats that I can't count them! Naming the streets after the ships is a way of honoring the sacrifice these military families made over the years. How long has John Knox White lived in Alameda???

Submitted by Sylvia Kahn (not verified) on Tue, Apr 29, 2014

I am proud that there is some recognition of the late great Barbara Manning. She was a remarkable woman who dedicated her entire career to this community. She more than deserves the honor. Alameda is not only a former military community, it is a community rich is diversity and history and honoring people who have educated multiple generations here is a a lovely thing to do. John Knox White did not suggest Barbara Manning, he listened to those who wanted her memory honored.

Submitted by David (not verified) on Tue, Apr 29, 2014

That really is offensive showboating by the Planning Board member in question.

There is tremendous support in Alameda for veterans and US service members.

How about we get Clarence Tinker's name back on a street? That was lost when the street was changed to Willie Stargell.

Submitted by Theresa (not verified) on Tue, Apr 29, 2014

Anyone have any idea if we can reopen this issue for discussion? If so, how and/or who do we contact?

Submitted by Joseph (not verified) on Wed, Apr 30, 2014

The AHAB should be relied on to generate a list of names that pertain to the proud Naval history of Alameda. Do we really want more "Towne Centre's" in this city? The fact that literally thousands of service members shipped out of NAS Alameda and never came home should be sufficient reason to respect the traditions, and do the right thing.

Submitted by Voice Your Opinion (not verified) on Wed, Apr 30, 2014

Per John Knox White's website, "The names will now go to the Historic Advisory Board for adoption onto the approved list of street names and become final (with their vote)." I wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Historic Advisory Board ( stating my opinion on the matter. The next HAB meeting is tomorrow so write soon!

Submitted by Don K. Peterson (not verified) on Fri, May 2, 2014

I think we have had enough of the Navy. They were the biggest polluters in the Bay area. They dumped PCBs into the estuary and pumped out fumes from their epoxy paint booths used to paint jet airplanes. I know these things because I worked there for a private electrical contractor on these projects.
I would like to see the street names to reflect the names of people who lived in the west end.

Submitted by Alameda native (not verified) on Sat, May 3, 2014

Tragic. The only thing worse than this one guy's idea is that the city "leadership" has apparently endorsed it.

Submitted by Linda Lou McCall (not verified) on Tue, May 6, 2014

I just spent the last few months reading books about military history, particularly World War II. I was shocked and appalled to learn of the blatant racism that the US military allowed against black American and Native American soldiers. Read up on the 761st Tank Battalion, the first black tank unit in WWII, who were placed in those rolling "iron coffins" (the military's term for tanks) because it was decided that blacks were too stupid to be aviators. These brave black soldiers fought and died in Europe, battling the Hitler regime and the Nazis who were persecuting and murdering Jews on an industrial scale, yet they returned to a country where they had to sit in the back of the bus, drink from "Colored" water fountains, take jobs as janitors, trash collectors, gardeners, house "boys", etc. (even black men who had been officers in the military. They were denied jobs, education for themselves and their children, housing and the other benefits given to military personnel who hadn't even left this country! I'm glad that my late husband, award-winning recording artist/drummer Louis A. McCall Sr. was chosen to have his name included. He and his family paid their dues, with many of his relatives protecting and serving this country. Louis' grandfather fought in WWI and WW2, attaining the rank of Sargeant, his father was the first black Deputy Sheriff in Contra Costa County, and his daughter is a police officer with 10 years on the job. Louis was born in Alameda and many of his relatives on both his mother's and father's side of the family still reside in an around that city. Con Funk Shun, The group that Louis founded was one of the most popular bands of their era and their music is still being played and sampled today. Their hit records, including many Top 40, Top 20, Top 10 and even a song that charted at #1, garnered the group 5 RIAA Gold Albums.

Many of you who are holding out for the Navy should take the time to see if the military accurately portrays the racial feelings of YOUR community today. The military is still discriminating and harassing women, homosexuals, and people of color. I would rather live on a street named after someone who really represents this new millennium that we live in.

Thank you to the Planning Board for considering Louis A. McCall Sr.! This is a great honor for the family, especially coming right behind the birth of Louis' first grandchild in March 2014.

Submitted by David Morgan (not verified) on Mon, May 26, 2014

I see nothing wrong with honoring the fact that the US Navy used to occupy the property.