Local Briefs

Monday December 17, 2001

Traffic monitor hit by car


BERKELEY – The city’s plan to help pedestrians cross intersections by providing small, bright-orange flags took a hit Friday when a Jeep struck a 53-year-old woman carrying one of the banners. 

The woman was not seriously injured. 

Berkeley implemented the plan this week in hopes that it would force drivers to take note of pedestrians at some of the city’s most dangerous intersections. 

Pedestrians take one of the flags, cross the street and leave it in the holder on the other side. 

That’s what Susan Wood did before the Jeep struck her. The Jeep’s driver, Maya Bacha of Pleasant Hill, was cited for failing to yield the right of way to a pedestrian. 

The accident did not dampen the enthusiasm of Berkeley officials, who say the program will help protect pedestrians in the long term. 


City imposes new stricter wood-burning regulations


BERKELEY – Planning to build a new house in Berkeley? You’ll have to nix plans to curl up in front of a fireplace. 

The city has imposed what may be the strictest wood-burning regulations in the Bay area. It hopes to reduce health risks from polluted air. 

New fireplaces and commercial open-fire appliances, such as wood-fired pizza ovens or mesquite grills, are banned under the ordinance. Substantial remodels of existing fireplaces and appliances also are banned. 

Existing structures are exempt, as are appliances that meet strict federal environmental standards. But the ordinance leaves many on both sides of the debate unhappy. 

Critics point out that since new houses are rare in Berkeley, the ban largely is symbolic. Representatives of the wood-burning appliance industry say the ban is based on flawed assumptions about wood smoke dangers. 

Unlike many other jurisdictions, Berekley’s regulations have been inserted into the building code. That makes it easier for the city to enforce, said Nabil Al-Hadithy, manager of the city’s Toxics Management Division.