Page One

Letters to the Editor

Saturday October 14, 2000

Correcting the record on Measure BB 



After reading John Cecil’s letter in your Oct. 10th edition, I had to write to correct at least part of his letter regarding Measures AA and BB on the November ballot. The fact that I’m commenting on Measure BB should not lead anyone to think Mr. Cecil is accurate in his rather extraordinary arithmetic concerning Measure AA. But because I have served as the Chair of the BSEP Planning & Oversight Committee’s Subcommittee on Maintenance for some years as well as currently serving as Chair of the District’s Facilities & Maintenance Advisory Committee which recommended the parcel tax that is now Measure BB, I can correct Mr. Cecil’s misunderstandings regarding the maintenance parcel tax. 

I was very active in the campaign to renew BSEP in 1994 when the measure was revised to put most of the money into the classroom to help compensate for the ongoing shortfalls in State funding.  

We reduced maintenance monies in BSEP because the community wanted to preserve core educational programs, not because we thought we were over funding maintenance.  

It was another one of those terrible choices everyone involved with the schools had to make. We’ve now reached the point where we must adequately fund maintenance, both for the health, safety and educational needs of our students and to preserve the enormous capital investment Berkeley has made in its schools.  

Because the demands on the General Fund of the District are so severe and because everyone supported the essential raises given teachers this year, there was no other place to get the money to properly fund maintenance than through a parcel tax.  

The Maintenance Advisory Committee, which also produced a reorganization plan for the department, worked long and hard before recommending the parcel tax to the Board in April.  

Unlike other jurisdictions, Berkeley does not use a one-rate-for-all, across-the-board figure for a parcel tax. This is precisely to protect low-income homeowners and seniors.  

There is an exemption for such taxpayers, while businesses pay a slightly higher rate and the rest of us fall into the middle.  

So rich dot-commerce families won’t replace anyone because of Measure BB. 

I would encourage those readers confused by Mr. Cecil’s colorful descriptions of the facts and figures concerned in Measures AA and BB to check out the web site of the Berkeley Citizens for Safe & Sound Schools, the campaign committee for the measures, at, or write me, c/o of BUSD, 2134 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, Berkeley 94704. Measures AA & BB are too important to be tossed aside based on such erroneous information. 


Stephanie Allan 


Berkeley Citizens for Safe & Sound Schools  


UC Berkeley builds Nobel laureates, but can’t build bike paths  


Dear Friends, 

As a fellow UC alum, I sympathize with James L. Fairley’s desire to banish distractions like noisy skateboards, noisy cell phones, and high rents from the University’s contemplative environment (letters, Oct. 12). But regarding his troubles with campus bicyclists, I have a better idea:  

Bike lanes. 

If the Berkeley community really wants to reduce its vehicle traffic, UC’s 50,000+ students, faculty, and employees are the key: These folks need incentives to commute to campus without a car. And for many UC students and staffers, a bicycle is an ideal way to get to campus. Unfortunately, as soon as cyclists arrive, they’re treated like second-class citizens. 

Bicycles are completely banned from much of UC’s central campus during business hours. The campus has only one formal bike path – a peripheral and incomplete north-south path, whose southern entrance has been blocked by construction for months.  

There are a couple of informal cross-campus bike paths, but these are equally peripheral – and roundabout, and subject to conflicts with motor vehicles and pedestrians. One informal north-south path is itself blocked by construction near Wurster and Evans Halls. 

No wonder poor Mr. Fairley has bikes cutting him off on footpaths: they’re given no clear place to go. The humble bicycle is 110-year-old technology, but UC Berkeley – home to one of the world’s largest concentrations of Nobel laureates – still hasn’t figured out how to accommodate it. 

Other universities have discovered that pedestrians’ and cyclists’ needs can be mutually met by striping bike paths. A university to our south provides defined bike paths, and attracts so many bike commuters that visiting its campus feels like stepping into film footage from Beijing. (I won’t mention this parvenu institution’s name, but its initials are “Stanford.”) 

Come on, Cal: Let’s get with the 19th Century. UC should stripe a 24-hour north-south bike path that starts at Bancroft Way, runs up the side (or center) of Sproul Plaza, continues between Doe and Moffitt Libraries, then up past Earth Sciences and the Queen of the Sciences (Journalism, my old school) out to Euclid Ave. 

A second 24-hour path should run eastward from Cross-Campus Drive past Life Sciences, between Doe and Wheeler, and around the Campanile to reconnect with Cross-Campus Drive out to Gayley Way. 

To ensure pedestrians’ convenience, both paths should have frequent pedestrian crossings, with clear signage directing cyclists to yield.  

The UC police officers who currently waste their time chasing cyclists off their bikes entirely, should instead just make sure that bike riders obey these signs.  

Finally, if either path is ever blocked by construction, it should be carefully rerouted so that it remains continuous. 

There is room for both of the paths I’m proposing: at most, the east-west path might require repositioning a couple of parking spaces. And these paths would allow UC students and staff to bike directly to the campus’ most-visited buildings. Providing that option would take a measurable number of cars off Berkeley’s streets – making it easier for all of our city’s pedestrian’s to Go Bearably. 

Michael Katz 


Member, Bay Area Responsible Cyclists 




It is interesting to note the excuses given by various individuals in the City’s Planning Department for their delay in approving the French Cafe’s application for sidewalk seating. It would appear a game of “tit for tat” was being played because of Cafe owner’s prior delays in filing for the permit. 

First, Giselle Sorenson was quoted that the approval would be further delayed if citizens called to inquire as to the status of the application’s approval. Clearly this implied a deliberate slowdown. Second, all department representatives used overwork and understaffing as a reason for delay. Now Wendy Cosin says that it has always been the policy of the Department to allow the sidewalk seating pending an application’s approval.  

If that is truly the case, the Department has been in violation of its own policy since August 24th, the date the application was filed.  

Why didn’t they then notify the Police Department and their legal department that the seating from August 24th forward should be allowed and was not to be cited?  

Why is it that only after the glare of publicity resulting from our sit-out on October 3rd was this policy publicly stated and the directive given on October 5th to allow such seating? 

In all of this it has been the public that for 7-1/2 weeks was the innocent victim of both the owner’s foolish intransigence in abiding by the law and the Planning Department’s equally foolish failure to abide by its own policies. 

Al Wasserman 




Cyberspace already here in city politics 



Just to let the readers of the Daily Planet know that cyberpolitics is alive in Berkeley beyond the panel discussion at the City Club Tuesday night. The Measure R campaign for the Berkeley High School Warm Pool 

Renovation has a website, The visitors will find what renovations the Measure will pay for, testimonials from adult swimmers and parents of young swimmers, a picture tour of the pool facility, and the campaign committee’s e-mail address.  

Perhaps the Planet can run an article on the many websites for the measures and candidates on November’s Berkeley ballot. 


Mark Hendrix 

Co-chair & treasurer 

Warm Pool Campaign Committee 

Committee for Measure R. 



Cross your bike safely 



In light of the recent brouhaha about pedestrian crosswalk safety, I’d like to raise the issue of bicyclist crosswalk safety.  

Bicyclists, please do not ride in crosswalks! Turning drivers scan crosswalks in their path for slow-moving pedestrians. 

As a bicyclist, you’re travelling 3-5 times faster than a pedestrian, and can easily ride into the path of a turning vehicle.  

Please ride through the intersection in the normal traffic lane, or walk your bicycle in the crosswalk. 


Ronnen Levinson