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Spend funds sending poor where housing’s cheap and jobs available

Walter Wood Berkeley
Wednesday November 28, 2001



Berkeley residents are becoming aware of increases in burglaries and violent crimes in our neighborhoods. I have even received a “safety alert” advertising a community meeting with my local City Council representative. 

Will she please take the following actions?  

• Act to keep population density along major corridors like University Avenue low. Do not allow scarce parking lots to be developed into population dense crime attracting housing projects. Vote to stop such projects.  

Every community should do its share to help the poor, but subsidized housing should not be disproportionately concentrated in anyone’s back yard.  

• No Berkeley neighborhood should house a disproportionate number of homeless, mentally disturbed, or drug addicted people.  

In my neighborhood, subsidies are currently concentrating homeless people in the Flamingo Hotel on University Avenue.  

Money to help these people would be better used buying them one way transportation to another state where housing is less expensive, employment opportunities are greater, and more people are needed.  

For more severely afflicted individuals who cannot support themselves anywhere, money would be better used for institutionalizing them at a remote location that will not be detrimental to neighborhoods. Mentally ill homeless drug abusers should not be in anyone’s back yard.  

• Vigorously oppose and in particular do not vote for subsidies to the Affordable Housing Associates projects. 

In spite of protests by neighbors, the one adjacent to the Flamingo Hotel on University Avenue has already destroyed the much needed parking lot adjacent to what used to be the Kelly Moore Paint store. It has also destroyed the Kelly Moore Paint store itself.  

It now threatens to bring in “special needs” people with a history of mental illness, drug abuse, and dependency on government subsidy.  

If it is too late to stop this project, at least minimize its size and make sure that its occupants have minimal detrimental influence on our community.  

Instead of people with a history of mental illness and drug abuse, perhaps this project could house seniors who would have access to the nearby senior citizen center two blocks away at the corner of Hearst and Grove (Martin Luther King).  

Seniors would be a lesser crime magnet and would be less detrimental than dually diagnosed schizophrenic and drug addicted homeless people.  

• Neighborhood watch with “eyes and ears on the street,” crime bulletin boards, neighbor alert e-mail and phone networks, and more beat cops on bicycles might help slightly, but the single most important step my City Council person should take is to prevent rather than encourage high population density in Berkeley.  

In particular, Berkeley simply does not need more subsidy dependent people with problems.  

Berkeley should be a medium density moderately affluent university town where residents can drive their cars, park without too much difficulty, and enjoy shopping and a movie. Berkeley cannot do this if the city government continues to subsidize population density increases of people with the greatest risk of problems.  

Berkeley need not become a high subsidized housing, low income, crime and drug infested, urban ghetto.  

Will my city council representative vote for some gentrification please?  


Walter Wood