taking over the city we all love
In over 12 hours of testimony on the Beth El project, of those in opposition, only five did not live within two blocks.
We are now a town where NIMBYs are taking over.
•We cannot implement a four-story housing project with 20 percent of the units at below market prices, on a transportation corridor zoned for four stories.
•We cannot upgrade a long abandoned shop to support people with AIDS.
•We cannot implement a softball field on existing open ground.
What has happened to Berkeley? How can a city that professes to admire progress become so reactionary?
We lampoon ourselves in the “How Berkeley Can We Be parade.” Lets examine this self-mocking as we look at the Beth El project:
•It has been four years now.
•It has been insufferable post midnight meetings.
•It has been commissioners suing the city.
•One commissioner actually bragged about “breaking into the site,” asking, “Why can’t we move them out of town?”
How Berkeley Can We Be?
They want to save the fish that can never reach the Beth El site.
They say we should not pave over the creek.
But every street in Berkeley paves over every creek it meets.
They want a park to themselves.
They want no change, no how, never, never, never. Not In My Back Yard!!!
How Berkeley Can We Be?
Beth El holds multiple workshops
Initial concepts are changed & change again.
Beth El, at its own expense, hires traffic, parking, creek, fish, tree experts, soil, structural and landscape experts.
How Reasonable Can We Be?
Beth El comes to the city with a project that is
below the height, below the building footprint, beyond the setback, in excess of the parking requirements and in tune with the neighborhood.
How Reasonable Can We Be?
We lampoon our city because we all see how ridiculous it all is.
Now is the time for the city council to declare, loud and clear: NIMBYs shall not rule.
Now is the time to bring reasonableness back to the city, the city that we all love.
School officials compromise
Thank you for your article covering the issues around Special Education. It will not be “okay to be a student with a disability” in Berkeley as long as it is okay for BUSD's special education administrators to compromise civil rights.
Joann Biondi is quoted in your article as saying that disputes are resolved in mediation rather that formal hearing. Mediation is the first step in due process. That most issues are resolved there is because students can't wait to have the educational services and hearings take more time. Although services are compromised, at least they can begin to be provided if resolved in mediation. Also, despite what Biondi says, special education administrators DO take the adversarial approach to IEPs. If they didn't, parents and administrators would be working together rather than against each other.
There are good things happening in Special Education. In particular, some full inclusion programs at the elementary level are very effective and professional despite lack of resources. Many of Berkeley's regular education teachers, principals and parents are smart and supportive. Special Education leadership should mirror their dedication, uncompromising respect for civil rights, and the appreciation for diversity.
Cops who stop pedestrians for violations unfair
On March 20 this year, I was stopped by a Berkeley police officer for walking across the street. It was at 3:15 p.m. Not a car was in sight in either direction. I was within the crosswalk. The problem,according to Hester, was that I was in violation of Berkeley municipal code 14.32.050. I had failed to pay attention to the signal. Indeed, the little red hand had begun to blink.
I was stunned when the officer ordered me to stop and produce identification It doesn't help matters that when cars are around, I am often nearly run over by motorists when I am paying attention to the signals, whenever I wrongfully assume that they are too. Shortly after my incident, I even witnessed a car running onto a sidewalk and crashing into the restaurant where I was dining at, on University Avenue!
Around about that time, I also spent a week vacationing in Tokyo. I was simply amazed at how polite the majority of the people were there. I was in the heart of Tokyo, all day every day, and I never saw a single auto accident. Just while walking to and from work along University Avenue in our little Berkeley, I see a vehicular mishap or near-miss (usually involving speeding) almost every day.
It seems to me that the priorities of the police in this town are misguided.
According to the Berkeley Police website, out of 29 beats, the area where I was cited accounts for about 10 percent of violent crime in Berkeley. It seems that the judgement of at least one officer is seriously in question. In this case, I was the victim. This citation may have been nothing more than a $103 nuisance, but it feels like the time that I was mugged in Chicago.
In both cases, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was preyed upon by someone who did not have my best interests at heart. Are pedestrians and bicyclists being targeted as they are easier to stop than a speeding car? Perhaps.
Progressives can put their muscle behind Kriss
At a time when so many politicians let their egos dictate their actions it is heartening to see Kriss Worthington put his constituencies interests first. Rather than engage in a divisive Assembly primary, Worthington willingly and openly deferred to such potential progressive candidates as June Jordan, Nancy Skinner, and Mark Friedman. Now that these leaders have bypassed the race, the progressive community can unite behind Worthington and avoid the divisive battles of the past. Voters will no doubt recall Worthington’s display of conscience and integrity in the selection process when considering their choice in the March 2002 election.
Editor’s note: Nancy Skinner may, in fact, run for the office.