Berkeley Briefs

Tuesday April 15, 2003

BART considers fare hike 


BART is considering a 10 percent fare hike, beginning Jan. 1, 2004, to help close a $38.8 million budget deficit. If approved, a trip from downtown Berkeley to downtown San Francisco would jump from $2.75 to $3. 

The hike, which must be approved by the BART Board of Directors, would come on top of a 5 percent increase which was put in place this past January. 

BART Director James Fang, of San Francisco, warned at a board meeting last week that a new jump in fares could drive people to their cars. But Director Roy Nakadegawa, who represents part of Berkeley, told the Planet a 10 percent increase is necessary and played down the idea that it would decrease ridership. 

“We already made a 5 percent increase in January and it didn’t seem to make a difference,” he said. 

The board will vote on a final budget, including the fare hike proposal and up to 42 layoffs, in June. 

—David Scharfenberg 


City receives parks awards 

The California Park and Recreation Society presented Berkeley’s Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Department with two awards earlier this month.  

The first was in the category of facility, design and park planning for the Berkeley Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge, which spans Interstate 80 to the Berkeley Marina and has become a symbol of Berkeley.  

The other was for the department’s mini-grant program, which allows community groups to apply for $3,500 grants that are used to improve neighborhood parks. 

—John Geluardi 


Lee pushes peace department U.S. Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) are leading an effort to create a Department of Peace, headed by a Secretary of Peace who would sit alongside other cabinet members to promote nonviolent solutions to conflicts. 

The legislation was introduced in July 2001 by Kucinich, a presidential candidate and a vociferous critic of the Bush administration’s foreign policy. The number of members sponsoring the bill has grown to 44. In a phone interview from Washington, D.C., Lee said last week that the legislation would “make peace a viable option” and “help our government think outside of the box and learn to do things differently.” 

The bill would also establish a four-year Peace Academy, modeled after military service academies, and designate Jan. 1 Peace Day. 

Getting the bill passed will prove a challenge. Sean Walsh, a Republican political strategist, explained: “It’s silly,” he said, “We already have a department that fulfills that function. It’s called the State Department.” 

Walsh said creating a Peace Department would only interfere with the Defense department’s function of reigning in brutal regimes and lead to the proliferation of “mini-Saddams all over the world.”  

—Angela Rowen