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Letters to the Editor

Friday August 08, 2003


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I enjoyed Zac Unger’s piece on the Thai brunch (Daily Planet, July 29-31). But I’m surprised when he says, “I’m still searching for the majesty of my first purple mountain. Zac, it’s an easy two-step process: 

1. Walk east until you arrive at the fruited plains. 

2. Look up. 

Walter Gray 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

OK, we all need to follow up on this. All of us. Tell your friends, tell your neighbors. Hey, tell your enemies. 

We can subvert the attempted corruption of the political process by conservative Republicans in the form of the recall election, and solve the state’s budget crisis, all with one simple act. Every registered voter in the state should pay the $3,500 filing fee and run for Governor of California in the recall election! There are approximately 15 million registered voters in the state; even if some cannot afford the $3500 filing fee up front, a large majority of voters probably can. The state could raise upwards of $40 billion, even $50 billion, if every voter followed through on this! 

Of course, the state would have to be flexible on payments: accept credit cards, work out installments, etc. But the beauty of this is that we, the people, solve both the crisis that precipitated the recall and the fiasco that this recall election is quickly becoming. 

Let’s go folks! There are only a few more days. I’ll see you all down at the County Registrar! 

John T. Selawsky 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

A petition from 274 neighbors of the Berkeley Adult School and Franklin School was delivered this week to the board of education, urging the board to delay its Aug. 20 vote on the proposed move of the BAS to Franklin. 

The petition represents a clear majority of residents who live near the sites. Neighbors are concerned that a decision affecting the very nature of our neighborhoods will be made on the basis of rushed planning, on data that are too often incomplete and contradictory, on dumb institutional momentum.  

Some wonder, despite assurances to the contrary, if the school district will have to come back and ask us for more money to complete its multi-site facilties project. Others believe the proposal would hurt the Adult School and its ability to serve its students. 

The design plan itself is drab.  

Moreover, respected planning experts have recently raised serious concerns about the district’s environmental and traffic analysis of the proposal and about its legality. The city manager has weighed in to ask the district for a plan that details the effects on all the school sites involved. There is obviously no time to seriously discuss these recent critiques before Aug. 20. The public hearing that night on the entire issue will be limited to the board’s regular 30 minute general comment period.  

To be fair, district officials and board members have regularly met with the community to explain themselves and hear us out. In the end, however, the vote is apparently seen by the district as more procedural than anything else, just another step in implementing a broad facilitates plan already adopted by the board. 

In fact, this vote would start in motion a series of relocation and construction projects that would permanently change the very nature of at least three neighborhoods.  

At Franklin, at least 1,200 students would be introduced into a residential neighborhood five days a week and into the nights. Many of these students would arrive by car. At West Campus, the current home of the Adult School, residents want the school to stay and worry that the planned administration and maintenance facility would not be a good fit. The vote would certainly have ripple effects on Oregon Street, where the current maintenance offices are located. These are all neighborhoods where the balance is always precarious between a busy, urban setting (which we enjoy) and chaos and congestion.  

We know this balance well, but there may be some district officials and even school board members who think that our concerns are just selfish “preferences,” in the words of one.  

Well, of course, if something major is going to be done to our neighborhoods and the way we live, we have to demand that it be done right. In the end, some residents may decide that these moves simply make no sense at all.  

But it’s also true that most of those active in this issue know and value the Adult School and want it to have a proper home (not shoehorned into another old building so that the district can go on to other things). People in these neighborhoods appreciate the importance of the district’s mission and care about its problems. It would be a shame for the board to waste this support. It might be a long time before it got it back. 

What we need now is, as one resident said, just more “class and clarity.” And more time. 

James Day 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

What’s going on with Berkeley government? They claim to have a “Green Program” which preserves or creates play space for children yet won’t speak up to stop such amazingly mind boggling ideas as paving over the baseball field at Franklin Elementary school or filling in huge areas of irreplaceable nature at Lawrence Livermore labs, and for what? Parking space!!! Where are our progressives now? You hear them yelling and screaming and taking up all kinds of city time and city tax money (can you say deficit?), complaining about war, starvation and other social problems on the other side of the globe but do absolutely nothing for the local Berkeley constituency for whom they actually work and who pay them! We need to recall them all and let the parade be led by our fearless leader Gray Davis. 

Saul Grabia 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

With regard to the proposed move of the Berkeley Adult School into the Franklin School facility, all I want to know is, who dreamed up this idea and how do they think that it’s going to benefit this neighborhood? I would guess that the authors of this plan neither live in this neighborhood, nor do they have to contend with the increased traffic congestion or the ever decreasing availability of parking spaces.  

The parking situation is already bordering on ridiculous—one can scarcely even find a parking space in front of their own homes when they come home from work in the evenings. And just when you thought that things couldn’t get any worse, the relocation of the BAS to the Franklin School site will make an overcrowded situation even more difficult, by adding dozens of cars onto already choked streets. 

I was here in 1992 when the city proposed to build low-income housing units on the grounds of the then-derelict and abandoned Franklin School site (which they went ahead and built anyway despite overwhelming opposition from community residents). The explanation given by city proponents was that the facility could not be used for educational purposes anyway because it was structurally unsound, and failed to meet earthquake standards. To my knowledge, nothing has yet been done to upgrade this facility since that time, but now they’re in a big hurry to move the BAS into this building? Give me a break! 

My gut feeling is that this is a poorly conceived plan that will be a waste of already limited school funding, and ultimately benefit no one. Community residents should speak up and make their voices heard on this issue, otherwise we’re going to wake up and find ourselves saying “There goes the neighborhood.” 

Instead of trying to rush this thing through as has been done in the past, I would certainly be in favor of some better decision making by BUSD officials, who should make every attempt to consider more viable alternatives. Perhaps resources could be better utilized toward upgrading the present site at its current location on University Avenue. 

Dennis Perocier 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

At a time when there is so much bad news, it’s pleasant to have something good to share: 

Yesterday two teenagers from California Youth Energy Services came and improved the quality of my life as well as the environment—and it was free. The provided compact fluorescent lamps, a low-flow shower head, cabinet latches to prepare for the next earthquake and much more.  

The boys were prompt, pleasant, punctual and very efficient. An absolute joy! 

You too can enjoy this great service by calling 428-2357 and making an appointment. Participating in this win-win program is enough to make you feel good all day. 

Rhoda Levinson