Letters to the Editor

Friday May 28, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was pleased to learn that plans for a baseball and sports park are finally moving forward. It has been at least seven years since this was first proposed. 

The benefits of a real park far outweigh the perceived negatives. The fire trucks and ambulances will find a new route that will go through residential streets, but they will eventually go through them on every call they make. The farmers’ market will have a much more appropriate setting for their natural products than a street. 

The original plans were designed to support other sports besides baseball, such as soccer and softball. There are many other sports the current “field” is being used for, including women’s rugby, and women’s and men’s lacrosse, among others. 

I am a resident of the neighborhood, and have lived in Berkeley over 30 years. Dealing with parking and traffic comes with living in a city. The current building has homeless people in and out of it. The streets around it serve as an overnight campground. Demolish that eyesore that was “East Campus” and let’s build the best possible park we can. 

Bart Schultz 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The East Bay Regional Park System, and its bay, and its rules do not belong to “state and local park officials.” They belong to the people of the Bay Area. At hearings held by these officials, hundreds of people testified in favor of designating certain hill and water areas in this six million strong, densely populated urban complex for walking dogs off-leash. 

For 20 years now dogs and their humans have been walking together in harmless joy and harmless freedom on the wild, rip-rap seaward edge of an obsolete dump—and watched it slowly turn into a wonderful, zany, awkward, gracious place to roam. Albany Bulb is the only welcoming untrammeled, exhilarating bit of bay shore in or near the population centers of Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond and Alameda with shoreline paths and a small bounded beach for dogs to romp. Crowded, cramped and ugly, the district’s “dog-run” at Point Isabel is more like a prison exercise compound than a land and seascape. 

I am 77 years old. My housemate is a dog. I cannot drive the freeway to the sour wasteland of Point Isabel or some place (not yet discovered!) a hundred miles to the south. For 40 years I helped fight the battle to secure more of the bay for public access. Public access means access to the Bay Shore too. 

Now the Albany Bulb, this tiny, man-made bit of joy and freedom, has been sequestered—not for a supermarket, or a heliport, a junior college, or a racetrack—but by ecological purists who should be fighting more important and less discriminatory battles. 

Off-leash dog-walking, in one tiny, funky area in a sweep of what must be about a hundred miles should not be too much to ask. 

Ariel Parkinson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Daily Planet’s May 14-17 issue carried some great letters about the omnipresent motorized scooters, now spreading like fleas over the city. For $800 one can annoy an entire neighborhood, day or night. I have had several too-close encounters with these often recklessly and dangerously operated modern instruments of citizen torture. One tried to run me down in the street; others, sped up and down the sidewalks, narrowly missing pedestrians. Another was observed on a pedestrian path next to very young children and woman with baby carriages. Officers on the beat need new ordinances to help them deal with these pests. Some effective controls are needed now. 

Arthur Eaton 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

Our representatives should not be giving away something valuable for nothing. Apparently, they have decided that the Brower Center, with new Section 8 housing, is worth giving away the city-owned land at Oxford between Allston and Kittredge. In exchange, the city will get parking spaces which will generate revenue, hopefully at the same level as the current parking spaces generate. That revenue, will, of course, not be available when construction is being done. 

In the mid-19th century, San Francisco had a school at Fifth and Market streets, the Lincoln School. It still owns the land where Nordstroms and the San Francisco shopping center now sit. The city granted a long-term lease to the developer of that building and now the San Francisco school district receives regular rent for that land. A large lot on Oxford Street across from the UC campus will always be valuable. The city should keep its ownership interest in the land. Taxpayers of Berkeley paid for that land and the city representatives should preserve that asset. Every year when the San Francisco school district gets the check for the “Lincoln School” rent, thanks go to the far-sighted officials who resisted the calls to sell the land. 

With luck, in the next century, Berkeley’s officials will thank the forward looking officials from 2004 who preserved the city’s asset so that it will continue to generate revenue for important city programs. 

By the way, if housing is to be built, why not build housing that firefighters or police officers or Berkeley High teachers could buy and live downtown? Being employed, they will not qualify for low-income housing, but they still deserve to live close to their job and there is an advantage to the city to having these city workers live and own property downtown. The city would even get property tax from those new homeowners. 

William Flynn 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I read the article in the Daily Planet about the Berkeley Quarter Meal program being bailed out but I think you may have missed an even bigger story. Just who are the people involved in serving the meal in People’s Park. You state that they belong to the Dorothy Day house but the man I talked to serving food said he wasn’t with them and he and his friends just took over for the Quarter Meal when it seemed to them that no one else was going to feed people.  

I asked him how much they got paid for their services and just laughed and said, “I wish!!!.” The food is outstanding. The day I ate there they were serving a choice of barbecued beef, roast lamb, Fried chicken, real mashed potatoes with roast garlic, three different salads, asparagus in lemon butter, desert and juice! 

I don’t eat that well at home let alone expect to be served that kind of high quality food at a homeless meal. The following week I had dinner at the Quarter Meal to compare the two and it was really bad. 

So who are these people, why are they doing this and why isn’t the city racing around to find these cooks funding? They have been serving these meals in the parks for weeks. Does the Berkeley Food and Housing Project expect these fine folks to keep this up for a year? 

What’s going on here? 

Virginia Minton 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Oxford Elementary School Parent Teacher Association would like to convey a great big THANK YOU to the Berkeley community for their support of the Oxford Elementary School raffle, held in May. It is amazing how generous Berkeley, Oakland, El Cerrito and Albany businesses are in support of such endeavors. Nearly 60 businesses, individuals and organizations made contributions to make our fundraiser a success, a fundraiser that supports our librarian, gardening program and classroom field trips. Without this incredible community, our kids would not have some of these opportunities. Thanks! 

Kim Smith 

President, Oxford Elementary School Parent Teacher Association 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I found Jakob Schiller’s article (UC Lecturer’s ‘Intifada’ Comment Brings Death Threats, Daily Planet, May 25-27) to be unduly sympathetic to Hatem Bazian’s point of view, and insufficiently aggressive in challenging his attempts to explain away his comments. 

What he said at the anti-war rally was this: “Are you angry? [Yeah!] Are you angry? [Yeah!] Are you angry? [Yeah!] Well, we’ve been watching Intifada in Palestine, we’ve been watching an uprising in Iraq, and the question is that what are we doing? How come we don’t have an Intifada in this country?” 

Oh, but he now says he believes in non-violence, and he meant only an Intifada in a political sense? Give me a break. 

Tom Freeman 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

On May 20, more than 40 individuals—including Mayor Bates, Councilmember Dona Spring, representatives from the University of California and the Berkeley business association, as well as interested members of the community—visited San Luis Obispo to gather information about how the city’s downtown creek and plaza project benefits their downtown economy and how a similar vision could be achieved in Berkeley. 

We heard from all parties in SLO that their downtown environment is greatly enhanced by their open creek and pedestrian plaza. In fact, it is one of the main draws to downtown, which currently has no retail vacancies! David Garth, president of the Chamber of Commerce, David Romero, mayor of San Luis Obispo and Kenneth Schwartz, vice mayor, all credit the creek and plaza for making the downtown a special attraction which benefits local businesses tremendously. 

Berkeley could realize a similar vision with a Strawberry Creek Plaza on Center Street. The cost of daylighting the creek is actually not so great, especially considering the alternative cost of ongoing expensive repairs to the existing crumbling underground culvert and the economic benefits that would be returned to businesses with a pleasant creek and plaza giving people more of a reason to stay and enjoy Berkeley’s downtown district. 

The social, economic, and environmental benefits that could be realized in the heart of downtown Berkeley in the near future are enormous. The city 

and UC should seize this opportunity and form the necessary partnerships to make this positive and achievable dream a reality. 

Kirstin Miller 

Program Director, Ecocity Builders 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

He said “nukiler” when he meant “nuclear.” 

He said “calvary” when he meant “cavalry.” 

What is this man doing in the White House? 

Dorothy V. Benson