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.