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Letters to the Editor

Friday July 11, 2003


Editors, Daily Planet: 

You statement about the cultural offerings of the University of California would be laughable if it weren’t so sadly mistaken. As a regular subscriber to Cal Performances I have seen this year The Bolshoi Ballet, Mikael Baryshnikov, and numerous world class performances. Last year I saw Yo Yo Ma, the New York City Ballet, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and other performances too numerous to mention here. These “traveling attractions” are hardly institutional fare and would be seen in neither Bloomington nor Lubbock. Obviously you were trying to make a point (which seems to be that you love Paris) but your statements regarding cultural offerings at the University of California are ludicrous. (I do not represent UC Berkeley). 

Rocky Hill 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Attention fellow citizens of Berkeley: Our quality of life is about to be compromised by those who feel that we can save open space in outlying communities by increasing the density of our fine city. The proponents of “smart growth” envision a city of people walking, riding bicycles, riding public transportation and not needing a car in their lives. As soon as a place exists like that in this country, I’ll be glad to live there; but when public transit is being reduced because of budget cuts and fares are increasing for AC Transit and BART, I see a problem. Walking is not safe in all neighborhoods, and bike riding can be a life-threatening activity in city traffic. Berkeley’s history of being unfriendly to business will continue to force people in their cars, as a majority of jobs are accessible only by car. 

Because Mayor Bates and City Council are pushing to provide homes for up to 40,000 more residents, this is not a good time for the school district's plan to close West Campus and build new structures that cannot be used as a school again. 

I too would like to see development of open space curtailed, but instead of allowing Berkeley to become more crowded than it already is, why not create a city fund that would donate money to The Nature Conservancy or The Trust for Public Land. Instead of sister cities, we could have “sister open-spaces”-- another great Berkeley first! (I'm joking, but if someone wants to run with it, count me in for $20.) 

Planning for the future of Berkeley should be much more than increasing the tax revenues for the city. More money doesn't fix all the woes of city life. Increases in the population also create needs for increases in city services, and soon the money is not enough, yet again. 

Art Adamson 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Thanks to Angela Rowen for reporting the news of Sprint antennae on the roof of Cafe de la Paz at 1600 Shattuck Ave. Allowing the installation of antennae is yet another illegal action by the Planning Department. Most probably this plan has been approved by Mark Rhoades, who had been with the wireless industry before joining the Zoning Department. He makes his own laws when necessary. The so called mock antennae do not have a permit. Any structure to be erected should have a permit. 

What is happening to Berkeley? The Mayor steals copies of Daily Cal, the Planning Department allows Sprint to install antennae illegally before the public hearing is held, etc. Should Berkeley citizens break the laws and when caught claim that they were fatigued? The antennae are mock; so are the laws improvised by the Planning Department. If Mayor Tom Bates adheres to laws, then he must have Sprint remove the antennae. 

Afrida Free 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

If you are a bus rider in Berkeley who depends upon public transportation for shopping and for getting to places, you may have noticed the shiny new bus shelters in some locations in our city. It is said that 125 of these new shelters have been ordered from a company that donates, assembles, sets the shelters in place and pays our city “for the right of way.” 

If you don’t drive a car, have heavy packages to carry, and cannot afford or don’t qualify for the expensive Berkeley Taxi Scrip, you may need to occasionally relax at a bus stop.  

Recently, while waiting for a bus outside my favorite produce market, I sat down in a new shelter to rest my back, and slid down into and got stuck in a thirteen-inch gap between the seat and the back panel. Several complaints have been made of discomfort by bus riders while trying to sit in a new bus shelter in Berkeley. If a shelter has a back panel (not all of them do), why can it not be near enough to the seats to be safe? 

Surely, bus shelters could be tailored to the safety of users. 

Arlene Merryman 




Dear Editor: 

Will you elaborate more on “True Threats at Home” (Daily Planet, June 13)? What is with the so-called Mexican Tunnel from Mexico to Canada? Is it the same thing as the International Highway from Mexico to Canada? The so-called Underground Railroad of the 1800s was not a literal railroad, as we well know, but, because of the secrecy involved in slave escape routes, the route got such a name. 

How does the so-called Mexican International Highway from Mexico to Canada compare with the Underground Railroad of Harriet Tubman’s day? Are the Hispanics encountering enough turmoil in their displacement to warrant enactment of such laws as the Fugitive Slave Law of the 1800s?  

With the influx of Latinos being made east of the Mississippi, are the Latinos considered to be more free in the U.S. than the Mexicans entering west of the Mississippi or south of the border? 

Estella Davis 

El Cerrito 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was baffled by Robert R. Piper's claim (Daily Planet, July 4) that this region is on a long-term growth trend. For several months now, there have been articles in local newspapers about jobs and people leaving the Bay Area. 

With respect to growth, Berkeley is unique. The population reached 113,805 by 1950 and remained close to that figure through the 1970s. The population then dropped to about 103,000, with no reduction in housing units (in fact there was a net increase in units during each subsequent decade). 

The policy which caused Berkeley’s ample housing stock to be underutilized for two decades is now over. If developers and their entourage of trusting supporters would remove their heads from the sand long enough to look around, they might see signs of a growing vacancy rate, particularly in multi-unit buildings. Tenants who have choices generally prefer to live in smaller buildings with open space (without neighbors above, below and sharing their walls), and on quiet streets rather than “transit corridors.” 

When the cement and metal behemoth at Acton Street and University Avenue opens in August, I suggest that everyone keep an eye on whether it becomes fully occupied soon...or ever. If not, we must ponder the fate of the many similar buildings which have just broken ground. 

By the way, Dr. Piper, people love cities like San Francisco, Paris, London and Boston for their historic buildings which have been preserved, not for the holes left when landmarks are turned into rubble, nor for gigantic monuments wrapped in white plastic in the heart of downtown. 

Gale Garcia 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I really do not understand the problem with instituting the exit exam. Well, sure, some (or a LOT) of people will fail it (even though it is geared to the sophomore/freshman level). 

So? So what? They fail. They have to repeat the grade. They have to go to adult school They have to go to a junior college. Is this any worse than giving them a diploma verifying that they are “competent” to go to college, and then having them go to a four-year college (such as CSUH) and having CSUH put up with remedial education? If they cannot qualify for a sophomore/freshman level of learning, they really do not deserve a diploma.  

A diploma should be earned. Some people just have to take longer to earn it. 

Paulina Miner 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Regarding the recent tax cut: It is shameful. The tax breaks previously given to the super rich should have been repealed as a matter of simple social justice. 

I’ve seen estimates saying multi-millionaires will get $90,000 to each $100 “the poorest half of us get.” Extend that to four years, and you have a disparity of $360,000 to $400. And this is just the beginning: It goes on and on. If it stands, the super rich will become a permanent wealthy class such as has never previously existed in this country. Even subsidized farmers in the Middle West should rise up against it. 

When, by the way, will you list Jimmy Olson on the masthead? 

Phil McCardle