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Letters to the Editor

Tuesday October 24, 2000

Breland corrects the record  



Last week your paper published a letter from Robert Cabrera, the president of the Berkeley Property Owners Association, which was an attack against me.  

In his letter, Mr. Cabrera alleged that we had met and had a conversation about rent control. His report of our conversation cast me in a very bad light. This is a conversation that never happened.  

My opponent in the upcoming election is supported by the mayor, who has long been an opponent of rent control and is closely aligned with the Berkeley Property Owners Association. Mr. Cabrera owns a substantial amount of income property in Berkeley. He is likely experiencing a considerable increase in his income due to vacancy decontrol.  

I’m sure he is concerned about jeopardizing his returns. Mr. Cabrera knows well that I am a supporter of rent control and voted to place Measure Y on the ballot.  

Measure Y would protect the disabled, the elderly, and long time renters from bogus evictions. Mr. Cabrera’s letter was nothing more than a political attack, motivated by the upcoming election.  

He would clearly like to see me unseated and fabricated a conversation that never happened to influence District 2 voters. Unfortunately, election time tends to bring out the worst in people. 


Councilmember Margaret Breland 



Enough parking already 



Is the supply of parking available to public employees working in the Civic Center area of downtown adequate? (Berkeley Daily Planet, 10/19) Yes, it is. 

When city employees choose to park six or eight or ten blocks away from where they are working, it’s not because there is no parking closer to their workplace. It’s because they are looking for free parking and don’t want to pay for parking in the numerous garages or lots that are only one to four blocks from where they work. 

The City of Berkeley should not provide free parking for any employee.  

From an environmental standpoint, provision of free parking is a very bad idea. Rides for Bay Area Commuters’ Commute Profile 2000 found that only 4.8 percent of commuters with free parking at work use transit. For commuters without free parking, the use of transit and other modes jumps to 42.1percent.  

There is no doubt that expanding the supply of long-term parking, especially if it is free, will encourage driving, undermine transit, and worsen traffic and air quality. 

In fairness to rank and file city workers, no city employee from the City Manager and department heads on down should be given free parking.  

City Councilmembers and their aides should also not be given free parking spaces. They should set an example and pay like everyone else.  

Or better yet, they should set a positive example by taking transit, riding a bicycle or walking. 

The city should collect money for the use of every parking space on city owned property used by city officials and city employees. All of this money should go into a fund to help cover the cost of transit subsidies for city employees. The Southside/Downtown Transportation Demand Management Study draft and the draft General Plan both call on the city, 

UC and other area employers to establish a transit subsidy program similar to UC’s “class pass” or the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority’s “Eco-Pass” program. 

Just as UC negotiated with AC Transit to provide UC students with a pass that is paid for by a nominal increase in student fees; so the City and other employers need to sit down with transit agencies to establish programs for employees.  

The money generated by charging all city employees full market rate in city owned parking spaces can be used to help cover the cost.  

The total cost is likely to be relatively minor compared to the cost of other employee benefits. The City should be a model employer and provide all employees with transit passes at no cost. 

The School District and the County courts, which currently do absolutely nothing to provide incentives for employees to use transit, should be encouraged to do the same.  

No effort should be made to provide more parking for BUSD and Alameda County employees. 

Eco-Pass in Silicon Valley has been a big success. At companies where employees get the free passes, transit use has increased by an average of over 70 percent. 

The Class Pass at UC has increased student use of buses. 

Will all employees use transit if provided with free passes? Of course not. But enough will to significantly reduce demand for existing parking in the area.  

People who choose to continue to drive will have more parking spaces to choose from. There is no need to expand the existing supply of parking. 

The City should also implement the trip reduction strategies in the Resource Conservation and Global Warming Abatement Plan which they adopted in 1998, including the proposal to subsidize bicycle use by city employees. 

For city employees who get off work late at night, the city can provide escorts or shuttles at the end of shifts to BART, bus stops and to parking areas just as UC provides escorts and shuttles for its students. 

The proposal made by members of the Police Officers Association to give city employees permits to park in residential areas is a terrible idea that would turn neighborhoods west of downtown into employee parking lots and would have a detrimental impact on neighborhood quality of life. 

The City needs to take a comprehensive approach that recognizes the inter-relationship of parking, traffic and transit. Piecemeal planning and looking at parking in isolation is counterproductive. 


Rob Wrenn  

Chair, Berkeley Planning Commission 


Fuel reduction service still carries on in hills 



Please note – the hills area still pays for and receives fire-fuel reduction service – chipper and bins for yard waste, during the summer. The fire district coincides, mostly, with refuse collection District 3.  

The Council, after a public hearing, raised refuse collection rates for District 3 to cover the fire-fuel removal services. 


Tania Levy 



Measure Y: reasonable assistance for renters 


Measure Y will help senior, disabled and other long-term renters to remain in Berkeley. 

I am confident that once Berkeley voters find out the truth about Measure Y, they will give it their overwhelming support. 

Rental property owners succeeded in passing a State law that substantially weakened our local rent control program; it allows rents to be raised as high as possible whenever old tenants move out of apartment units and new tenants move in.  

Now, landlords have a strong incentive to change tenants frequently. 

Unscrupulous landlords attempt to drive out long-term tenants with reasonable rents so they can lease their apartments at sky-high rates to newcomers. Such landlords initiate evictions based on the assertion that they (or their relatives) want to occupy the tenants’ homes.  

Once the tenants leave, the landlords move in for a short while, then hang out a “For Rent” sign. These ‘owner move-in’ evictions can be fought only with difficulty under current law. Measure Y will strengthen tenants’ legal protections against this kind of abuse. 

Under Measure Y, long-term renters of larger landlords will be shielded from owner move-in evictions. After all, the landlords have many options besides driving out people who have put down roots in Berkeley and who, because of the current feverish market, will often be unable to find replacement housing they can afford anywhere in the Bay Area. 

Measure Y will discourage deceitful evictions by mandating that when landlords claim they need to push out tenants in order to occupy a rental unit, they actually intend to live there for a substantial period of time instead of just a few months. 

Measure Y will not restrict the ability of small “mom and pop” landlords to move into their property. 

Measure Y will provide reasonable relocation assistance to renters who are displaced by owners the same dollar amount of assistance that is required when landlords exercise their right under State law to go out of the rental business. Only low-income tenants who have lived in a place for at least a year will be eligible for this help. 

Measure Y will keep some of Berkeley’s most vulnerable residents from being unfairly forced out of their homes. Please vote “yes” on Measure Y. 


Randy Silverman 

Chair, Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board 



Citizen documents selective enforcement 



I agree with Steven Finacom’s point about the Berkeley police’s singling out of Carrie Sprague.  

There’s another issue, though. What Sprague is documenting is selective enforcement by the police for their own benefit. That’s corruption, actually, which may explain their overblown reaction to a woman with a clipboard.  

I sympathize with their desire for more parking, but it;s a two-fold abuse of their power both to flaunt the law and then harass the one who calls them on it.  


John Parman 













Your article on the dangers of so-called “natural” supplements never addressed as to why people turn to supplements in the first place: the failure of western medicine to successfully treat a wide variety of illnesses and ailments including, but not limited to, cancer, aids, heart-disease and diabetes (Daily Planet, Oct. 23). Unfortunately, the alternative health industries look very similar to western medicine, not only in terms of corporate profits, but more importantly, in their narrow-visioned attempts to treat symptoms, not causes, with pills and potions. While traditional peoples may have sometimes resorted to medicinal herbs and plants to treat disease, they always looked at food first. They understood the vital relationship between human health and natural foods. 

While we would all like to believe that their is a “magic pill,” yet to be discovered, that will “cure” not only minor ailments, but life-threatening ones as well. We have put all of our money and focus on finding a “cure;” a quick fix that will allow us to continue living our lives chaotically with absolutely no acceptance of any personal responsibility whatsoever. We have placed all of our faith in science, as if we are merely machines; as if modern science can explain life and health beyond cells and molecules; it obviously cannot as evidenced by the alarming lack of health today, by the failure of the “War on Cancer,” etc...etc... As human beings, we are much more than just a collection of genes and cells; we have emotions, imaginations and spiritual conditions that have an immense effect on our health. We have all freely chosen the physical, mental and spiritual conditions in which we now find ourselves (if not in this life, in past lives). Disease takes many years to manifest, so let’s stop investing our money and our lives in symptomatic, corporate solutions to disease...whether they be “natural” supplements or toxic drug therapy. There are no “magic pills,” no quick fixes. In these terms, disease can now be seen as a wake-up call; a teacher...and a friend. Make sure to listen carefully. 

Michael Bauce 

Berkeley 841-5420 














I would like this to appear in the Daily Planet but I know that it is too long for a letter. Can it be a perspective piece? Any other suggestions about how I can get my voice heard 

on this? 




Regarding the front page story of the Oct. 21 Daily Planet, I for one am glad that there will be no fast food service in that part of Berkeley and applaud Ms. Breland’s efforts on behalf of her constituents on this. However, I am puzzled about why she has remained silent on behalf of other members of her constituency, namely the families in the area surrounding 2700 San Pablo Ave. We too have “quality of life issues” in regards to the size and scope of the Kennedy/Choyce project planned there.  

Under their current proposal this massive building of 48 apartments takes up nearly an entire block, at 4-5 stories, towers over the surrounding 1 and 2 story homes and businesses and is built to the very edge of the property in all directions. In addition, there will be parking for 61 cars adding to the air pollution and traffic in this area. The Kennedy/Choyce plan also currently includes a permit for a fast food service. Why aren’t our “health ramifications” important to Ms. Breland? Like this other group, we also have a petition signed by 400 plus people living in the area, but we had to do it ourselves. Margaret Breland did not offer her services to us and was extremely difficult to reach when we did ask for her assistance. I have personally spoken with many members of this community – particularly elderly African-American homeowners who are very upset about this project but who are either too ill or too busy to do anything. Where is Ms. Breland in all this?  

Why has she chosen to represent the developers not her community? Not surprisingly, her list of campaign contributors include Patrick Kennedy and his wife as well as the Rev. Choyce. 

Our neighborhood would welcome this building if Kennedy/Choyce would simply modify their design to be a 3 story building. This could be economically feasible for them, still provide a great deal of necessary housing, create a sustainable precedent for future building and help San Pablo develop into a great avenue. Between Dwight and Ashby, there are 11 large lots that developers like Patrick Kennedy will want to develop into massive projects and companies like Shell Oil and Carl’s Jr. will want to stake their claim to with mini-marts that sell fast food and liquor. We need to tell developers and corporations that we want more desirable development that benefits our community! 

What about it, Margaret? 

Phyllis Kamrin 510 548-3627 




To often, Berkeley “Activist” groups work seperately or take different approaches to solve the same problem. Your article about the southwest Berkeley neighborhoods opposition to a new fast food complex at 1200 Ashby Ave. appeared above an article stating that southwest Berkeley residents have a life expectency of 20 years less than those residents in the Berkeley hills. 

There is a major connection here between these two groups of activists and they should be working to help each other. Those residents in southwest Berkeley ( read African American) die at a younger age not only because of a lack of healthcare but because of poor eating habits. A recent study on health showed that black youth get 40 percent of their daily vegetable intake from french fries. An article about the free lunch program in Oakland High schools revealed that very few of those elegible took part but instead bought fast food.  

Obesity among all Americans has increased more than 60 percent since 1990. There is more of a health crisis than a health care crisis.Those who want healthcare for everyone should think in terms of wanting a healthy life for everyone. Help people to enjoy their lives by improving their quality of life not just prolonging it. Berkeley is proud of the fact that it promotes the use of bycyles and not the automobile. It is time for Berkeley to promote healthy lifestyles and ban fast food.  

Caring about health is as important as caring about healthcare. 


Michael Larrick  

(510) 849-4572 




I am and have been a resident on Carrison Street for the past 23 years. I am upset by the article written about the block and the people that represent the block. I believe that the opinions regarding the plans are valid and I would agree with them. 

What I do not agree with is the way my new neighbors portrayed Carrison Street as a “street overrun with drug dealers and prostitutes.” I’d like to point out that Vicki and Mike Larrick have not lived on Carrison Street for eight year as stated. Drug dealers and prostitution has never been a problem on Carrison Street. 

Up until their move, the Larricks, this street was filled by senior citizens. 

Actually the house in which they vacate was owned by a senior citizen until her death. They moved in her house maybe 4-5 years after she died. 

I know this because up until they moved in I watered the grass. I believe that my anger is mostly directed at the Larricks because of there portrayal of themselves as saviors to the community. 

Carrison st was fine and it is fine and it will be and will always be with or without there contributions. From the moment they have moved in they have only acted as conquerors. They have showed no respect for those that have lived here before and have raised successful families.  

For example, Mike Larrick decided to appoint himself as block Captain, until residents became aware of his self-appointment and voted him out. There lack of knowledge and need to feel heroic is overtly present in this article. It saddens me that my neighborhood has gone from predominately black to racially mixed, whatever that means. 

But as people move in to clean up the neighborhood they must keep in mind that are new that they are joining the group that was already established and attempting to make a change themselves. 

It is really sad to see that my neighborhood is being represented as a bad black neighborhood until it was saved by it’s new white residents. Some of the arrivals of the migration to South Berkeley, do not respect the people, the community, or the residents they have joined with. 

The Larricks have made this apparent by the extreme measures they have taken to isolate themselves from the community until it is time for the Great White Hope to appear. It is like prehistoric times,,as a resident I feel like existing residents are like the Indians. Our land, our efforts, our homes are being taken over by people that have only one thing on there mind how can I live here and make it the way I want it to be, not how can I become apart of this community and help with the efforts being made.  

If you want to write something about the community, write about the gentrification, genocide, and mentacide occurring in south Berkeley. It’ real and it’s occurring. 

As a matter of fact you can interview the Larricks to find out how their efforts have contributed. They are recruiters for those looking for cheap property, occupied by residents of over 20 years, that they can ask to move and give them enough money to pay 3 months rent. 

If you don’t believe me ask my old neighbors, senior citizens with historically fixed rents, uniformed of there rights and Measure Y, why they had to move out there homes, and move after over 25 years of occupation. Oh yeah the people that bought the house were friends of the Larricks. If I am not mistaken Vicki Larrick assisted with the selling of the home. Try to help them.....Please. Thank You  

Kinchasa Taylor,