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Letters to the Editor

Tuesday October 10, 2000

No plot to twist town into ugly towers 



You recently published a satire on Berkeley politics by Morlock Chaillot (Letters, Sept 29). The piece was somewhat amusing, but why did you run it as a Letter to the Editor? There is no Deep Ecologists’ Gaian Alliance as far as I know, and no real person named Morlock Chaillot. Why publish someone who doesn’t have the courage to stand up with their real name for what they supposedly believe in?  

But, there is was. And, in spite of all the twisted accusations and assumptions erupting from Mr. or Ms. (Mad Woman of Chaillot’s) clever pen in an attempt to portray ecological city planning as a farce, it didn’t pull off the desired effect. However, the letter did make room for the opportunity to shed some light on a few of the implications and assumptions.  

First of all, although some of the Berkeley elite love to portray Richard Register as a lone individual who champions pedestrian scale infrastructure against the wishes of everyone else in Berkeley. Ecocity Builders is not the only group on the planet advocating for ecological and pedestrian oriented urban planning. Surprise! Secondly, ecocity theory and planning is not an evil plot to convert your town into an ugly mass of high rises. Surprise again! Register did invented the term “ecocity” in 1978. His Ecocity Berkeley, Building Cities for a Healthy Future, has been well respected in eco-urban circles since it was first published in 1987. He is also the author of three other books, including Village Wisdom, Future Cities and the upcoming Ecocities.  

Far from building a gloomy “Gotham City” with “shadowy, phallic spires” as the Morlock Challiot letter maintains, Ecocity Builders is dedicated to returning healthy biodiversity to the heart of our cities. That means nature–-creeks, bike paths, gardens, and open space. (Does that sound like an evil plot to ruin us all? I think not.) Ecocity thinking is about creating whole cities based on human scale needs and transportation, rather than the current pattern of automobile driven excess, wasteful consumption and the destruction of the biosphere. 

(Again, I fail to see why working towards a goal like this would be considered not worthwhile, not important or unrealistic.) Guided by ecological design principles and by using common sense, we can cast aside our dependence on the automobile and recreate our human habitat in balance with natural systems. But it is up to us to start the process.  

Register’s thinking is not bizarre or fantastic or unreal. In fact, it makes complete sense. What is unreal, bizarre and fantastic is that more people don’t think through how we are currently creating our built habitat and realize that we need to shift the pattern away from auto sprawl and waste, and toward compact centers linked by transit. Everywhere, even in Berkeley. 


Kirstin Miller 



2700 San Pablo safer than builder thinks 



Is 2700 San Pablo in a high crime area? The developers and their supporters keep saying it is. But the facts say otherwise.  

The Berkeley police keep statistics on a beat by beat basis of major crimes. It is available to the public on their Web site.  

2700 San Pablo is in beat 15. Beat 14 is across the street from Derby north. These two beats have nearly half the crime as does the average beat in Berkeley. In fact, there is only one of the 19 beats with a lower crime rate.  

This make it clear that whatever development takes place on that site will unlikely result in less crime. Indeed, the site will look better, housing will be provided - hopefully for low income families and the disabled, and the developers will prosper. But less crime? No.  

We already have a safe neighborhood. It’s much safer than the Berkeley hills, for instance.  


Bob Kubik 



Need to wake up to the danger of junk food 



For many of us, who have been paying attention, your report of a study released by Berkeley’s Public Health Institute, indicating that 1/3 of California’s teens’ are at risk for serious health problems such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes “BY THEIR EARLY 30’S,” based on diet, came as no surprise (Daily Planet, Sept. 26). It has become a national disgrace of sorts; how junk food is cleverly marketed, made available at every corner, and supported at public functions; used as rewards for good behavior or performance at school and at home....with barely the blink of an eye. As these habits progress, our kids can’t concentrate and can’t relax, physically, mentally or spiritually. It can’t be conveniently discharged by running it off either; all the exercise in the world won’t ever address the debilitating effects of long-term consumption of processed junk on a child’s developing immune system and brain.  

Is this report a wake-up call to those who truly care about our children; parents, teachers, school administrators and city officials? While we have begun to develop food education in our schools on one hand, we haven’t done enough to support these efforts in other ways. Let’s get working...our children’s very lives are at stake. 


Michael Bauce 




Spend old school bond money before asking for more  



The Berkeley School Tax and Bond Measures on the November 7 ballot are not worthy of any concerned citizen’s vote. This fact was made crystal clear in a recent 

Meeting with the superintendent and his staff. When asked when they discovered that they needed more money, the administration’s response was, “We knew we needed $250 million when Measure A was put on the ballot in 1992.” This means that The School Board of Irene Hegarty, Martha Acevado, Elizabeth Shaughnessy, Miriam Topel, and Pedro Noguera lied to Berkeley to get passage of Measure A. While they formally approved and published the details of the $158 million bond in the “Green Book”, they knew it was fiction because they needed $92 million more! Therefore the school board had no intention of keeping the elaborate promises they gave to citizens that any funds obtained from other sources, would be deducted from the $158 million. The $43 million from other sources has been added to the bond revenue to increase their construction program to $201 million. With the new bond measure the total program will grow to $317 million, which is $67 million over the staff’s $250 million total!  

A report the School District issued reflects that, as of April 17 they have $70 million that they haven’t been able to spend yet! This excess includes $38 million in 

Bonds from Measure A they haven’t even issued yet. Thus if the new Bond Measure passes, you taxes will increase to pay for $155 million in new Bonds. This is more than double your current taxes for the cost of School Bonds!  

The new parcel tax for maintenance has similar problems. Voters recently approved changes to the existing school tax (BSEP) that cut the maintenance portion in half. 

Now the School Board concludes that they need a new maintenance tax, which is almost 600 percent more than the reduction, they just convinced voters to approve!  

To those concerned about the children’s education the significant question is what does any of these Ballot Measures have to do with education? Strangely, passage of 

excessive new taxes will increase test scores. Children of low-income families perform poorly on standardized tests, reflecting that their needs are not being met. More taxes will force out low-income property owners, and replace them with newly rich e-commerce families whose children will score better on tests. The School Board will have use unaffordable housing to raise test scores. Did they really plan this? The consequences will be the same whether the school board can plan or not.  

Perhaps the school board believes that they are about to lose the confidence of the Berkeley community! 

No needed repair is compromised if the Berkeley School District waits until they have used the existing monies they now have to ask the community for more. 

Vote NO on both Measures AA and BB. A colored Book and a concerned Citizens Committee did not protect the City from a $92 million lie on Measure A in 1992!  

The School Board cannot delegate their responsibilities to citizens’ committees. Let’s try education and leave the social engineering alone. 


John Cecil 





Thanks for Berkeley television schedule 



Thanks so much for running the BTV schedule today. As an avid viewer, it’s driven me crazy to not have much of a clue as to when anything ran except the (always entertaining) City Council meetings.  

After multiple decades here - back to the days of cursing the Gazette - I am one of many who are delighted to have a local paper again at last. Even if some days it’s ads ads ads + a wire service blurb. As an ole newspaper person, I know how good it is to be able to pay the bills too.  

Keep up the circus work!  


Lee Marrs 






























The latest burst of bloodletting in the MidEast is horrible enough to watch, without being told that the USA is responsible for it (photo, Friday 10/6). 

Let’s get it straight: the endless war in the MidEast is entirely the fault of the people who are fighting it. Blame the bloodletting on the fanatics of both sides. 

Israeli religious fanatics claim that God has given them the right to settle all of Biblical Israel, and throw out any non-Jews who might already live there. 

The Palestinians, Syrians and the various Arab guerrilla groups want the state of Israel to cease to exist. These people are being supported by various Muslim religious fanatics. 

Seen from outside the battlefield, there are all kinds of reasonable compromises available, any of which would let Israel and Palestine both have their national identity. If Israel and Palestine ever quit fighting and got together to make a MidEast research and industrial zone, it could be another place like Silicon Valley. 

But the fighting goes on, basically because the minority fanatics on both sides won’t allow any kind of compromise. 

As I see it, the major sticking points are the West Bank settlements and security. Israel needs to give up some occupied territory, but not unless the Palestinians can give credible guarantees that terrorists won’t use such territory to continue attacks on Israel. This last part is where the Israelis are 

right and the Palestinians are farthest from reality, in my opinion. 

Anyway, don’t blame the bloodletting on the USA. 


Steve Geller 




Berkeley’s loss, Altmont’s gain 



Here’s one for your “gown swallows town” ironies column. Every year, a certain San Francisco-based private charitable foundation spends millions supporting environmentally friendly organizations and projects. They even offer the world’s largest prize program honoring grassroots environmentalists. 

Three years ago, that same foundation awarded a $10 million grant to UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Public Policy. Re-christened the Richard & Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy (GSPP), the school launched an ambitious expansion program. 

The latest phase of that effort is the planned construction of an 11,000 square-foot facility for academic offices and classrooms. It will occupy the last remaining parcel of open space on Hearst Avenue’s north side, just across from the main UCB campus, and be scrunched up against the GSPP’s present facilities in the historic Beta Theta Pi fraternity house (Ernest Coxhead, 1893) and National Register Landmark Cloyne Court (John Galen Howard, 1904). Both of these old buildings are among the Northside’s few survivors of Berkeley’s 1923 Fire. 

To make room for the GSPP Expansion Project, as it is called, “approximately 3,500 cubic yards of materials and soils would need to be excavated from the site.” (GSPP Expansion Project DEIR, page 3-12) 

How much material is this actually? The back of a standard pickup truck accommodates about a cubic yard of soil. So, if you allot 20 linear feet of road for each truck, imagine a solid line of 3,500 pickups extending over 13 miles--from the Goldman School at Hearst & LeRoy Avenues clear across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.  

And where is all this material going? To the Altamont Landfill, of course.  

If this has you raising an environmental eyebrow, consider UCB’s current plans for “SRB1” (aka “surge” building) just down the hill at the Oxford Tract. There, to make room for a 200-vehicle subterranean parking garage beneath the 79,000 square-foot offices-and-classrooms building above, “approximately 40,000 cubic yards of material and soil would have to be disposed during excavation and grading.” (SRB1 DEIR, p 58)  

For this one, visualize a solid line of pickup trucks extending from the Oxford Tract down to through Santa Cruz to Monterey Bay or out beyond Sacramento 

to the Gold Country.  

Berkeley’s loss will be Altamont’s gain. 


Jim Sharp 




Michael Issel  






Subject: Response to October 3 Berkeley Daily Planet Letter from 

Eleanor Pepples, Candidate for City Council. 


Perhaps Ms. Pepples should direct her efforts directly to the 

council to which she aspires, with a program supporting candidate 

“equal rights for equal blights.” Because we live in Berkeley Ms. 

Pepples could propose public funded “public blight.” Because of 

funding disparities between campaigns, we could equalize them by 

giving every candidate their own set of public poles upon which to 

hang their aesthetic discontinuities, or in Ms. Pepples case, photos 

of herself. We could select several “safe streets” upon which all 

such blight would then be publicly displayed. Tours could be 

arranged. Public pole maintenance costs could be underwritten by 

auto mechanics, because they will become the beneficiaries when 

drivers, casting their eyes skyward, drive into potholes, speed 

bumps, speed pits and each other to avoid viewing the Hydra. This 

new revenue source could serve as an alternative to campaign 

contributions by frequenting our favorite auto mechanics instead.  


Indeed, we can foster an entirely new form of candidacy, the auto 

mechanics! Think of it, with their focus on maintenance to high 

performance standards, a whole new spectrum of governmental 

management possibilities could arise. Because auto mechanic rates 

are the same as psychologists, of necessity, Council meetings would 

be 50 minutes long. And let’s face it, unlike a psychologist; auto 

mechanics have the appropriate training to screw down our loose nuts 

and tighten our heads, not to mention making appropriate adjustments 

for excessive public exhaust emissions. So, instead of debating on 

the policy of foreign nations, we would have debates on foreign 

cars! Instead of endlessly inflating our city expenditures, we 

could have discussions on correct inflation pressure limits. This 

would actually serve a public need. The televised council meeting 

could transition from dreary public entertainment to lively 

informative “car talk” sessions - stay tuned.  


Mike Issel 
















BTV schedule - YEEAAH! 


Fri, 06 Oct 2000 15:47:15 -0700 


lee marrs  







Dear Y’all:  


Thanks so much for running the BTV schedule today. As an avid viewer, it’s driven me crazy to not have  

much of a clue as to when anything ran except the (always entertaining) city council meetings.  


After multiple decades here - back to the days of cursing the Gazette - I am one of many who are delighted to  

have a local paper again at last. Even if some days it’s ads ads ads + a wire service blurb. As an ole  

newspaper person, I know how good it is to be able to pay the bills too.  


Keep up the circus work!  






B-TV schedule 


6 Oct 00 15:07:01 PDT 


Joyce Kawahata  






Dear Daily Planet, 


I was so glad to see the B-TV, Channel 25 schedule in the Daily Planet. = 


hard to find it and the Daily Planet is so accessible. Keep up the good = 


in being a real community newspaper! 


J. Kawahata 






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