Need innovation: autos killing us
There is much on this page about automobile congestion and parking issues. But nowhere do I see an open acknowledgment that automobiles are choking us to death, and the innovative and daring measures we need to take to bring them under control. I would like to propose some.
The university could do several things:
a) As a condition of admission to, or employment by, the University of California, prospective students or employees should be forbidden to bring cars to Berkeley.
b) There’s plenty of land in Contra Costa. The university could acquire some and build large parking garages, running students and employees in by shuttle.
The city could do several things:
a) Except under exceptional circumstances, limit cars to one per household.
b) Or, levy a special tax on additional cars.
c) Require its employees to come to Berkeley using public transport.
d) Close off large sections of downtown Berkeley to create pedestrian-only, car-free areas. Run frequent shuttles to and through these areas.
e) Require residents to park their cars in their garages or driveways. This would open up much of our public streets.
These may seem like radical measures, but does anyone doubt that they, or something like them, will have to be adopted eventually if we are to control this automobile monster? If new laws are required, the university can easily handle this through the legislature. As for Berkeley, I suggest the council pass an ordinance embodying the above suggestions and be prepared to defend it in court, if necessary.
It will take strong measures like these to deal with the automobile pollution and congestion problem. But who can do this better that Berkeley, known far and wide for its innovative and progressive cutting-edge initiatives?
President, Bus Riders Union
Chair, Commission on Aging
Vice-Chair, Transportation Commission
Spy planes are not protected
While commercial flights are protected by international law, spy planes such as ours, are not. The law is quite clear about this; for example: Our war in Vietnam was an “undeclared war” (we never declared war on Vietnam). Thus, under the Geneva Convention, our captured personnel could be executed as “pirates” (look it up).
Now, as to our current spy plane, the Chinese could have executed the crew and kept the plane, but they didn’t. Thank you Viet Cong, North Vietnam, and mainland China.
Franke needs to answer outstanding questions
Mr. Bernd Franke, a physical geographer hired by the city (”Some Mistrust Over Tritium Report,” Berkeley Daily Planet April 4), stated in his presentation on April 2 at the North Berkeley Senior Center: “You can’t squeeze the truth from poor data.” In that case, what could possibly have motivated Franke to do just that?
According to the Daily Planet, Franke told an audience of 150 people at Monday’s Community Environmental Advisory Commission meeting that he could not find evidence of dangerous amounts of tritium being released. Yet, concerning the evidence Franke did find, all provided by the Lawrence Berkeley Lab, he states in his own draft report Review of Radiological Monitoring at LBNL: “For 1998, the silica gel data and the real-time data measured with the Overhoff System was used instead. Due to large uncertainties present in the Overhoff data, this estimate is likely to be unreliable.”
Franke further states that since “the Overhoff system did not continuously operate for the entire time periods in the years of 1998 and 1999 due to system malfunctions” the compliance report to the Clean Air Act was based only on silica gel sampler data. Regarding the silica gel samplers he states they “may not collect all the water in the air passing through, hence there is a chance that not all the tritium may be collected.” If you don’t know how much tritium is being released because one system malfunctions and the other is inefficient, how can you conclude the amount being released is not dangerous?
Franke’s report reveals that the accidental release of tritium on July 24, 1998, originally reported as 23 curies, and later adjusted up to 35 curies by the Lab, was probably closer to 50 curies because the Lab only reported the tritium released from the roof stack and did not include about 15 curies which were released from the hillside stack near the Lawrence Hall of Science.
The intent of the contract voted for by the Berkeley City Council on May 11, 1999 was that “IEER (Institute for Energy and Environmental Research) play an essential role as technical representatives for both a concerned community group (Committee to Minimize Toxic Waste) and the city’s Environmental Commission....” The major concerns of the Committee have not yet been addressed: How much tritium was released into the air such that 239,000 pico curies tritium per liter were found in rain water near the Lawrence Hall of Science in 1994, and 524,000 pico curies tritium per kilogram organically bound in vegetation near the LHS in 1996? And why is there 85,000 pico curies tritium per liter in ground water near the stack?
Considering that the maximum allowable tritium in drinking water is 20,000 pico curies these alarmingly high levels in rain water and other media are of grave concern to the community. We sincerely hope that Mr. Franke will extrapolate the tritium in air concentrations that caused these high levels and report this in his finalized version of the draft report he presented to the community on April 2, 2001.
Committee to Minimize Toxic Waste
Enforce traffic laws; re-engineer streets
I agree with Mr. John Cecil (April 4): Berkeley needs better enforcement of existing traffic laws. It is surprising that so few people are killed or injured on our streets. Berkeley is a paradise for traffic scofflaws of all kinds – drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
It may be true, as Mr. Wald said, that we need a “change of culture” to make our streets safer. I’m for that: let’s get rid of TV ads showing passenger cars (including RVs) driven at high speeds in urban and country settings. But changing a culture is something that takes years and years and years. As a solution for the problems of Berkeley today, John Cecil is exactly right: it is nonsense.
It is true, as Mr. Campbell (April 7) asserts, that “enforcement is not enough.” But increased enforcement is the only remedy immediately available, even if it is only a partial fix. His assertion that John Cecil wants to “turn Berkeley into a police state” is a disgraceful travesty of what Cecil actually said. Cecil observed that the Berkeley police department’s traffic detail is 50 percent smaller than the traffic details in cities of the same size, and recommended that we do as other cities do.
Other available remedies include increasing the number of parking spaces and the number of one way streets downtown. Traffic congestion would be eased considerably (making it much less dangerous) if we had alternating one way streets between Hearst and Derby, with Milvia and Oxford also one way, going in opposite directions.