APD Answers About July 4 Closure of Main St.

Alameda Patch passed on some readers' questions from about the closure of Main Street on July 4 to the Alameda Police Department. Here's what the APD had to say about the reasons for the decision.

Based on readers' comments about a June 27 article on the closure of Main Street west of the Ferry Terminal on July 4, Alameda Patch asked the for more information — who made the decision to close the area, and whether bicyclists would be allowed access.

Here's the reply from APD Capt. Paul Rolleri:

Here are the short answers to your questions.

1. APD made the decision, based on what has been going on at that specific location for the past several years. We needed to get permission and permits from the City to enact the closure, and we obtained those permissions. I've read a few of the concerns posted on Patch, but I'll respectfully disagree that we are taking away or limiting the liberty of the people. It seems like an extreme criticism, given that we are restricting access to a relatively small area.

2. Bicycles and pedestrians will be prohibited from entering the closed portion of Main Street. Again, this is approximately the area from west of the Ferry Terminal Lot down to the old Building 30, or Main Street gate entrance onto Alameda Point. All other points of access to Alameda Point will be open.

And here are my longer answers:

The USS Hornet is hosting their annual July 4th event, and their guests will have no difficulty attending the event. There is a separate private event in the private parking lots off of Monarch Street, but the street itself will be open. The area I'm referring to here begins at approximately the Air Traffic Control Tower and continues north to West Redline Road (near the skate park). Access to the lots behind the Monarch Street buildings will be restricted, but not by APD or the City of Alameda. Private security will be monitoring that event. They have the absolute right to close off their parking lots and restrict public access.

I don't know if any of your readers have been to Main Street on the 4th of July recently, but it has evolved into an amateur tailgate party, with alcoholic beverages, illegal and unsafe fireworks, and occasional fights and assaults.

For 3-4 years running, we've had several thousand cars, trailers, and RVs converge on that area for a public party with no formal organization. Conservatively, 8-10,000 people have been down there at the same time. It does not take much imagination to picture the traffic nightmare that has existed for this "event." Originally, it was to watch the Oakland fireworks show, but they haven't held that event for the past two years.

Frankly, it's a miracle that we did not have a serious injury. Our personnel have been completely outnumbered, so we have closely monitored the event and taken enforcement action for only obvious and serious violations. This is not an ideal situation for us or the public.

If all 88 sworn members of APD were on duty at the same time (which never happens) we would not have enough people to ensure everyone's safety AND patrol the rest of the island. I estimate we will have about 20-22 sworn personnel on duty. This small closure is 100 percent motivated by our concern for the safety of the public. If our resources are drawn to this area, it limits our ability to respond to calls on the rest of the island. Can you imagine the outrage if we were slow to respond to an emergency call because all of our personnel were tied up on Main Street?

Additionally, there is some liability mitigation going on here. If we are passively allowing persons to drink alcoholic beverages and set off illegal/unsafe fireworks in the City, and someone is hurt or worse, it's pretty obvious where the lawsuit will be directed. It's our responsibility to reduce or eliminate the opportunity for that to happen.

Finally, your readers should know that we are staffing the 4th of July evening with almost no overtime. Patrol personnel and detectives are having their shifts adjusted, and days off have been canceled, all to provide the best coverage at the lowest possible cost.

Alamedian June 27, 2012 at 10:08 PM
"I'll respectfully disagree that we are taking away or limiting the liberty of the people ... given that we are restricting access to a relatively small area." Nice logic, captain.
Michael June 27, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Won't those 10,000 people just move their alcohol and fireworks elsewhere in Alameda?
bette page June 28, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Do you read the APD weekly reports? the amount of domestic Violence/batteries/shootings has gone up considerably in this area of the old base in the last year. I'm betting you don't live near there, hence your knee jerk reaction your "liberities" being taken away. And you know he is right. Any injuries and the jerks will sue the City trying to get a payday.
bette page June 28, 2012 at 02:58 PM
hopefully they will stay at home since they can't party in the street. oakland cancelled fireworks this year, If you want to see SF's display, the beach is the best place.
Patricia Chambers June 28, 2012 at 04:05 PM
I live on the base and it can be a scary scene. Yes, it is exciting to have the fireworks right down the street. I have walked down there to watch only to turn around for my kid's and own safety. I was also concerned that one of those small children that are free to run around will be injured. There is no organization to who is lighting what and they are going off everywhere. The mess left behind is also disgusting. People leave everything on the ground including diapers, gross. Solution? Alameda should break off a little chunk of money and put on a fireworks display. Charge a fee for it or something. Let's stay patriotic at a time when people really need to remember what a blessing it is to live in America.
hobnob June 28, 2012 at 05:54 PM
I think this is a small price to pay for public safety. I didn't even know this party was going on July 4th down at the base, but I use to live in an apartment complex where my next door jerk/neighbour would throw out mini firecrackers out his window and onto the school grounds. For what reason? I don't know... but you betcha we just kept an eye out for any fire that might erupt. I don't think we need to waste money on a fireworks display, go to San Francisco to watch or San Leandro... I think the July 4th parade is big enough to celebrate! That is a big parade!
Carol Parker June 28, 2012 at 07:29 PM
FYI - there are no fireworks whatsoever allowed in San Leandro and the San Leandro Marina will be closed at 8 p.m. on July 4 so there will not be people congregating there to set off fireworks. Here is a statement from the San Leandro Police Department as reported on nearby San Leandro Patch http://sanleandro.patch.com/articles/4th-of-july-tips-from-slpd
Carrie Cole June 28, 2012 at 10:52 PM
We live near this area and I have to say that I'm relieved the area will be closed off. We've gone out to the base to try to catch a glimpse of the SF fireworks show for the past several years and the area by the ferry terminal has indeed gotten progressively worse. Last year, on our way back home, we had to drive through the congregation and we quite terrified by what we saw. People on top of vehicles, drinking, rocking them, yelling loudly. It's just not a great scene. The Fourth isn't an excuse to be obnoxious and that's exactly what happens every year. Fireworks last year continued until about 3am the morning after. Knowing APD will be closing that portion of the road will give me peace of mind and hopefully a restful night's sleep!
Disappointed June 28, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Really, "several thousand cars, trailers, and RVs" …"Conservatively, 8-10,000 people"?! OK, I get it. Safety and all, illegal fireworks etc., it's tough to argue with that. But seriously? Several implies 3 or more. Doing some preliminary measurements, using Google Maps, on a good day, that lot could only fit 400 cars at best. Giving the benefit of the doubt, lets round up to 500. That's still *far* from "Several thousand"! And *conservatively* 8-10,000 people?! Where do you get these numbers?! Even if each car had 4 passengers,. which would never happen, that's still only *2* thousand people at best! And you wonder why people are losing faith in their government? If you want people to take you seriously, at least try not to sound like you're talking out of your backside. I was born and raised in Alameda in the 70s, and some of my fondest memories were of watching fireworks at the beach. Imagine my surprise when I found out about the Alameda Point festivities last year! For such an informal gathering, I was amazed at how civil it was, and the general good natured atmosphere. I was even impressed that the APD had a presence, yet allowed people to enjoy themselves. I was *so* looking forward to it this year, imagine my disappointment when I realized it wouldn't be allowed. We've become such a litigious society, that on the day when we are supposed to be celebrating our independence, this simple pleasure is being denied. Home of the free indeed.
a94501er June 28, 2012 at 11:49 PM
10,000 people??? C'mon ... you CANNOT be serious. Sheesh.
alameda vigilante July 01, 2012 at 11:47 PM
No way 8-10,000 people, APD! Get real. Don't let those inflated salaries inflate everything else you describe. We are not all that stupid.
John Piziali July 03, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Capt. Rolleri, Thank You. Maybe some of the above commenters wouldn't mind having the Forth of July party in their neighborhoods.


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