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Letters to the Editor

Monday October 16, 2000

Does zoning dept. listen? 



We have made several related zoning complaints in the past year which are very serious and which have not been responded to. The first one, filed in September of 1999, involves the conversion of over 35,000 square feet of manufacturing space in the MU/LI zone from manufacturing to retail with only a Zoning Permit. In 1997, the Planning Commission allowed the rezoning of one building on Fourth Street to allow Cody’s bookstore to move in. Their decision was made contingent upon maintaining 41,000 square feet of manufacturing in that building.  

The ZAB allowed Cody’s Use Permit subject to the same condition. Both of those decisions along with their contingencies were later upheld by Council resolutions. Since that time, the remaining manufacturing space formerly occupied by Sweet Potatoes has been entirely converted to retail use and is now an antique store. We have had no response to several official zoning complaints and numerous visits to the zoning desk regarding this illegal use. 

More recently we have filed a zoning complaint regarding the property at 1608 4th St. which seems to be slated for retail use also. During the Design Review process for this property, the developer proposed a sign which read “Discovery Channel Store.” Design Review told them to remove the word “Store” from the sign. In looking through the current Use Permit file, we noticed that the sign had been resubmitted by the developer in August and it once again contains the word “Store”. This sign was accepted by Planning and was even allowed to be enlarged in September without going back to Design Review. The remainder of the space at 1608 4th is now being advertised by the real estate agent in charge of leasing as being “Located in 4th Street retail district.” 

We are quite concerned with the continued conversion of manufacturing space in the MU/LI zone and are appalled that it is being replaced by retail.  

This is a major contributor to the lack of parking and can not be mitigated with more conversions. These property owners, developers, future tenants and the Planning and Economic Development Departments should be told that retail is not allowed in the MU/LI zone. 




PD violated First Amendment 



As the free speech violations in Berkeley and throughout the country remain a critical issue, I would like to describe my recent experience. This is not on the level of outrageousness as the Secret Service reportedly blockading presidential candidate Ralph Nader from even attending the second corporatist “debate” (despite his holding a ticket!), but it is certainly at least as serious as candidates in Berkeley reporting selective removal of signs by city personnel.  

A moment of background. September was the first Car-Free Month, a month to honor and appreciate those who live (or would like to live) without motorcars. September was chosen because it is so full of meaningful days and events. Amongst those are the parades, wherein the streets are for a few short hours full festivity.  

I and friends built a float for those parades consisting of three hand-made bicycle carts, each carrying a banner with such controversial messages as, “Respect Pedestrians”, “Appreciate Bicycles” and “Celebrate (Car-Free) Living.” Given all the work that went into creating this, I decided to keep some of the banners on display for the last few days of Car-Free Month. 

Within a few hours of parking my bicycle (including two of the carts with banners) alongside the UC campus – safely out of the way of pedestrians, right alongside the red-zone curb at Bancroft and Bowditch – I received an emergency phone call from a citizen that the police were towing my trailers. 

I sprinted to the location and was shocked at the scene. The police and workers had torn down and ripped apart the hand-made banners. They had taken a cutting torch to melt apart my U-lock, and had taken the torch to the hand-made trailer hitch, destroying it as well. Note that the hitch has a simple release mechanism to detach the cart, no need to destroy it. 

This uniformed mob had further broken the main supports of the larger trailer, all in all many hundreds of dollars of damage. 

I asked why. The police falsely claimed that the bicycle was blocking the sidewalk. And how many times have we called in a motorcar blocking the sidewalk and received no response? They certainly never take a cutting torch to the car, break off the doors, rip out the ignition and scrape off the bumper stickers.  

Worse, it is part of an ongoing campaign of harassment. Supposedly a merchant first complained, which emphasizes the counter-cultural class war being conducted by police at the behest of private interests.  

Jason Meggs 







ROBIN M. DONALD, 1403 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA 94702 




October 11, 2000 


Judith Scheer, Editor 

Berkeley Daily Planet 



Doesn't Franz Schurmann (Opinion, 10/6/00) know that the Afghan Taliban resembles Pol Pot's Khimer Rouge with every passing atrocity? The Taliban regime is denounced by organizations and institutions as diverse as the Muslim Women's League, the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan, Time Magazine, AP, and Physicians for Human Rights for, amongst other reasons: egregious and violent oppression of women; the lack an independent press; trafficking and promotion of the opium/heroin trade (75% of the world's heroin comes from Afghanistan); and the August, 1998 massacre of 8,000 Hazara in the Afghan city of Mazar-e Sharif? 


Doesn't he know that one reason for the outrage by secular and religious Palestinians and Arabs at Ariel Sharon's presence at the Dome of the Rock - holy ground for Christians, Jews and Muslims - is that Sharon was the Israeli Defense Minister during Israel's 1982 occupation of southern-Lebanon and he was responsible for permitting Lebanese right-wing Phalangist execution units to enter two of the camps, Sabra and Shatila, where they murdered between 2-3,000 unarmed civilians? 


Can we have an article by someone with a grasp of the real issues, e.g., the Palestinian's right of return; the role of the Muslim Hamas in the "peace process"; why the people in the U.S. acquiesce in our government sending $5.5 billion per year in financial aid from the U.S. to Israel, which allows Israel to deny Palestinians their democratic rights while supporting illegal Zionist settlements and military murders of unarmed civilians?; and the failure of Israel to honor U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 (to move the boundaries of Israel back to the pre-1967 demarcation lines)? 





Robin M. Donald 



BTV fan-mail 


Sat, 14 Oct 2000 18:11:38 -0700 


Arnold Lee  


Berkeley Daily Planet 


Judith Scherr  









Sat, 14 Oct 2000 08:07:46 -0000 


"Lessly Wikle"  






Greetings - 


Both my husband and I are now avid fans of your paper, the Daily Planet. Imagine our delight when you took community information one step further and added the Channel 25 

schedule to your paper - you guys are great! 


Lessly Wikle