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Letters to the Editor

Monday February 19, 2001

Alternatives to private automobiles are needed  



I am writing in response to two letters you published on february 2 that opposed Richard Register’s ideas of car-free and denser housing. 

These people say that housing without parking will make parking encroach on our public spaces. What do they think is happening already? Looking at the amount of pavement in our cities for parking, freeways, roads, gas stations. Hasn’t the automobile already done enough damage to public spaces of those of us who choose not to drive. They are just wanting to protect what they have as drivers!  

Isn’t it time that we look for an alternative? We should at least try car-free housing, for if we don’t, we can be assured our problems will only get worse. 

They also complain about the poor bus system and no way to get from point A to B. The bus system won’t get better until there are more riders (which will come with increased density) and more funding (pennies on the dollar of what cars receive). 

And why not lobby the city of Berkeley to create a car sharing program. It’s done very successfully all over Europe and in some U.S. cities as well. We could have a check out right in downtown. That way people could get rid of there cars and free up public space. 

The private automobile is not the answer our traffic woes and poor urban planning. Although it is a painful process, increased density and fewer cars create an infrastructure that well funded public transit can serve. 


David Ceaser 



College district ‘Thank you’ is a waste of money 



Recently, this household received a letter from Ronald J. Temple, Chancellor of the Peralta Community College District that offered his most sincere thanks for our vote of confidence that resulted in the passage of his tax bond measure. The cost of sending his thank you letter to the two voters in this household, printed I might say, on quite lovely stationery, was 15 1/2 cents postage plus unknown costs for production and the like. Perhaps, he and some of his staff “who are now ready to move ahead in providing the very best educational services to our community” were energized by volunteering their time after hours to stuff and address envelopes. May I suggest to the Chancellor that an educational service he might consider providing to the thousands of us in his district who bring him so much pride, is revealing the dollar cost of his thank you note I trust he would not do so, however, by sending yet another letter to every voter in his district. 


Bruce McMurray 



We need more power plants in California  



Forgive me for sounding a little concerned but California would greatly benefit from the addition of SEVERAL more new power plants that are much more environmentally friendly than the others built in the past. Just don't build your nuclear power plants on the San Andreas Fault line like the Diablo Canyon Power Plant. 

We need to take action now because 10 to 20 years down the road from now, you will probably see an increase in electrically-powered light rail, especially high-speed light rail trains that will carry commuters fromacross the state to heavilly populated areas such as the SF Bay Area and Los Angeles for employment, at speeds to up to 200 miles per hour. This would be a great idea to reduce the traffic gridlock already present at the Altamont Pass / Livermore area.  

Other slow and possible phase-outs may include petroleum powered vehicles (except for tractor trailers). If this is the case, and my theory holds true, we may be very well be in a electrical crisis again should this notion becomes popular amongst California residents.  

All in all, we need power plants. Like it or not, if we want lower prices, then we are going to have to build our own power plants in California. However, I am not sure about the idea of a state-run power plant because we are going to pay for it with a heavy increase in taxes.  


David Gee 



Media should let go of Clinton’s leg 



Why is the news media, including your paper, giving so much attention to the Republican pit bulls who don't want to let go of Clinton's leg? Yes, he may have come close to committing the crime of accepting a bribe for helping a guy who is very, very rich. But a far greater crime is being ignored, namely, the theft of our election by political partisans who have corrupted the very foundation of our Democracy by not counting all the ballots. 

You can't slough off this imbalance of attention as "yesterday' news" when, every day, the White House is being occupied by the person who received fewer votes and who is working to transfer more public funds to that small constituency of people who are already very, very rich. 

You are covering the wrong crime story. 


Bruce Joffe 



Politicians just giving lip service to affordable housing 



Regarding the article “Council sets aside funds for affordable housing units”: Doing the math, 9.6 million dollars for 26 “affordable units” is approximately $331,034 per apartment. (9.6 million is the estimate - the reality could be more than that, and we are only talking about construction costs, not the cost of managing the property!) Considering that in west Contra Costa County, three-bedroom houses are selling for less than that, maybe we should look more carefully at the costs.  

The council members voted unanimously in favor of it, because voting against it would be political suicide in Berkeley. It seems that the economics of housing don't really matter as long as the politicians are perceived as being “pro affordable housing”.  

I am not against affordable housing, I’m against the city throwing large quantities of the taxpayers dollars at what appears to be a boondoggle lining the pockets of a few developers and builders. Perhaps the city should consider instead giving cost of living grants to people earning less than the median income.  

Surely a grant of $331,034 would make it possible for a low income family to find an apartment in today's market. Or perhaps instead of just 29 units, we could find a way to build 290 with that money.  


Doug Smith