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Letters to the Editor

Tuesday June 05, 2001

Sewer tax should flow to sewers 



RE: Art Goldberg’s Letter – concerning the Sewer Fund. 

Our forefathers (and mothers) dumped tea in the Boston harbor to express their displeasure at “Taxation Without Representation.” 

Berkeley’s City Council gives us “Taxation With Misrepresentation,” an even greater scandal. Any ideas about what we should dump and where to express our displeasure at the sewer tax flowing to the Engineering and Housing departments, gushing to the Corporation Yard and trickling to the First Source? 


Rosemary Vimont 



Safeway-size structure best elsewhere 



As neighbors of 1301 Oxford Street, we implore the council to reject the current plan for the Beth El development. 

If you walk or drive around this property, you will notice an overwhelming number of signs in front of homes stating: “Save Live Oak greenbelt/Save Codornices Creek/Save our neighborhood/Redesign Beth El.” 

I would say about 90 percent of the neighbors surrounding the proposed site have these signs displayed. We really wish the neighbors and concerned members of various environmental groups would be heard on this issue regarding a plan laden with many problems. 

There is no protection for our (and I mean belonging to all of us in Berkeley) Codornices Creek. We know the mayor is working with UC Berkeley to restore and daylight the creeks. How can we permit a driveway and parking lot if not on top of the creek, but right next to it. Either way, this will destroy forever any chance of daylighting it. 

Live Oak neighborhood has some of Berkeley’s most beautiful and historic homes. It also has the Live Oak Greenbelt running from Shattuck Avenue three blocks up to Spruce Street. The beauty of this greenbelt is the creek and the open natural setting of park like land that has not been built up. Beth El plans to destroy the beauty of this property with a huge Safeway size building, which intends not only to function as a Synagogue, but for social events beyond the normal use for religious services. 

We realize that Beth El does good deeds in the community. Well, please be advised, that many of the neighbors against this project, also donate their time and money to many good causes. We are also good people. It’s important to remember that just because you are a good organization, it doesn’t justify a plan that doesn’t fit into the neighborhood. It doesn’t justify destroying the earth. We are also very upset that Beth El has only paid lip-service at the most to the neighbors’ numerous concerns and has not worked with us at all. We would hate to think that Beth El’s leaders didn’t heed our concerns because they knew they had the political influence with the City Council and the City of Berkeley. We have already seen extreme bias on the part of city staff (whose salaries we pay) in the way they handle themselves at meetings and seem to be pushing this plan through. We have seen the ZAB lawyer and staff give thumbs-up to Beth El leaders and they are on a first name basis with the Beth El leaders. The only city commission which really looked at this project objectively is the Landmarks who rejected it due to the overwhelming size of the project, which would destroy the historical setting as it has existed for the past 150 plus years. 

Also, the City Council voted to have a mediator appointed by our City Manager and yet before any mediation has taken place there is going to be an open hearing? Shouldn’t the open hearing be held after both parties have had time to go through the mediation process? 

The neighborhood has appealed the current Beth El plan and has been joined by many environmental organizations that we’re sure of whom you have the greatest respect. 

We urge the council to reject the current Beth El plan and have it dramatically down-sized as previous City Councils did when the Chinese Church owned the property. If Beth El needs a larger site to accommodate its 600 plus families for their expanding activities, maybe they should find a different property closer to a commercial area, and enable the city, along with environmental organizations to open Codornices Creek, and preserve this beautiful site for future generations. 


Jim Cassell and Valerie Bach 




Save the open space on Oxford Street 



Please give the good people of Congregation Beth El city hall or anything else they want but save what little bit of open space we have left in Berkeley. Take the idea from the East Bay Regional Park District to buy up and preserve for future generations what natural resources there are.  


Catherine Willis 


County school board should support its superintendent 


The Daily Planet received this letter addressed to the Alameda County Board of Education: 

We write and speak as elected educational officials with a commitment to continued Alameda County Office of Education services and support. It is time to come together around a budget that reflects the wishes of the County Superintendent. We believe the continuing internecine battles over Ms. Jordan’s budget will cause irreparable harm to our school districts and the students of Alameda County. The fact that the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Delaine Eastin, threatened to withhold state funding for the County of Alameda Office of Education points out your neglect in carrying out your obligations to the voters, residents, and students of Alameda County, and tarnishes your roles as public servants and elected officials. 

Sheila Jordan was elected by the voters of Alameda County to bring fresh ideas and educational policies to the County Office of the Superintendent. In this capacity she has become more visible in our many communities, has improved services to our school districts, and has focused the resources of the office of the superintendent on improvement of educational services for the children in our respective districts. 

Ms. Jordan’s budget reflects the direction that the Alameda County Office of Education will go under her leadership, as endorsed and supported by the voters of Alameda County. 

By the continued attacks on Ms. Jordan and the threats of a vote of no-confidence by the County Board of Education, the County Board appears to be more involved with petty infighting than with the real concerns of the students of our county. It is time for the County Board to act as responsible public officials and support the efforts of the Superintendent to provide a budget that reflects the direction and emphasis to improve the functioning of the County Office of Education and its support of local school districts in the county. Anything less than a reasoned and quick agreement is unconscionable; the County Board’s present course risks voter disillusionment and state sanctions, as well as damage to county educational services. We urge your leadership and efforts for the good of all the students of Alameda County. 


Terry S. Doran, President 

Berkeley School Board 

John T. Selawsky 

Berkeley School Board 

Darryl Moore 

Peralta Community CollegeBoard of Trustees