Letters to the Editor

Tuesday July 20, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet: 

As an entertainer, the governor may not know about the tradition in politics of maintaining the illusion of respect and collegiality for one’s political adversaries. Differences aside, there is absolutely no excuse for him to stoop to name calling—whatever his message or intention.  

I am no supporter of the governor, but, until now, I’ve refrained from denouncing him. After all, misguided ambition, even when powered by fame and personal fortune, is not so terrible a thing. 

When he chose to insult the members of the State Legislature with name-calling, though, he proved himself a rascal and rube in addition to being an opportunist. He has chosen to abandon public discourse, throwing away his right to a fair hearing by disrespecting the Legislature and the people of California whom they represent.  

And is he lacking wit as well as manners? Does he realize that the Saturday Night Live sketch he cribbed from was not flattering to him? That Carvey and Neiland’s characters mocked him as a muscle-bound, brainless twit?  

Let’s get the governor’s attention, provoke him to apologize to state lawmakers, and remind him that—special effects notwithstanding—he is a politician now. 

He had better start acting like one.  

Troy DuFrene 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you for the informative letter from Anne Wellington (”Raging Grannies Wasted Their Performance on a Ruse,” Daily Planet, July 16-19) demystifying some of the affordable housing myths. We have experienced the adverse effects of so called “affordable housing” first-hand in Oakland where Mayor Jerry Brown, the City Council, and the Planning Commission all pander to the developers and rubber-stamp their projects while vital emergency services are cut (fire department, police) and health clinics close instead of declining the housing projects. While I am not opposed to affordable housing per se, I do oppose monies being taken from the general fund of city budgets while basic services are cut. This is happening at a time when there are vacancies everywhere especially in Oakland. Affordable housing is a complex issue and impacts low-income people living in cities nationwide. It deserves more in-depth coverage which I hope the Daily Planet will explore further. 

Marian Murphy 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The article “Planning Commission Passes University Avenue Plan” in Friday’s paper contained a number of factual errors and some misconceptions. The proposed zoning code will allow bigger building than the article suggests. It needs to be understood that when proposed maximum envelope and height numbers are mentioned it is before the 25 percent state-mandated Density Bonus is taken. The University Avenue Strategic Plan called for a maximum height of four stories in the retail nodes and three in the non-nodes, not three and two as the articles mentions. That is exactly what the proposed zoning code will allow. It is the Density Bonus that will potentially add the extra floor. The Density Bonus can also be used to reduce the rear setbacks. The solar setback on projects on the north side of University will reduce the size and density of projects although, after the Density Bonus is applied, not as dramatically as the article implies. Projects in the Southside retail nodes can actually have a larger floor area (FAR) than Acton Courtyard. The 20- foot setback is an average setback so these building do not have to be boxes.  

There will be a lot less retail on the avenue then implied in the articles. The statement that all mixed-use projects require 30 percent commercial is misleading. That requirement only applies in the retail nodes. In the non-nodes, mixed-use projects will require 15 percent commercial and only half of that has to be retail. The proposed project at the Tune-up Masters site, for example, would only be required to have 750 square feet of retail. Mixed-use projects in the non-nodes will produce a lot of tiny unrentable retail boxes. 

Of greater significance is the addition of residential-only projects in the non-nodes. Although this idea was rejected when the original plan was adopted, at this time there was a wide consensus that it should be added. This is predicted to be a popular use. It is easy to see that a lot of non-node development will replace larger retail spaces with projects that have either no or very little retail. The “token” retail will be a problem because it will be hard to rent, but reducing retail in the non-nodes is consistent with the UASP notion of not having retail on the entire length of the Avenue but instead concentrating it in retail nodes. 

Whether retail will really work in the nodes is uncertain. The plan stressed the importance of supplementing walk-in business with customer parking provided in parking lots. The required commercial parking would be for employees only. The retail requirement in the retail nodes are still small and will not produces the larger retail spaces that are more popular and tend to serve as anchor businesses. Last week the Planning Commission did a commendable job of trying to maintain some flexibility yet produce retail and tenant parking. The only solution is to rely on underground or stacked parking, both of which are becoming quite common, the commission should have the courage to declare if a developer wants to build a five-story building in a retail node they will probably have to stack or underground their parking.  

Richard Graham 

PlanBerkeley contributor 


EDITOR’S NOTE: Mr. Graham’s statements are correct. We appreciate his input. The headline on the story was also incorrect; the commission did not pass the plan, but is expected to approve a final draft July 28, as stated in the story. 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As it happens, I agree with Mitch Cohen regarding the desirability of cycling as a mode of transit but he has misrepresented my concerns regarding the basis for David Early’s proposed plans for a livable Berkeley. I had questioned a planning process that assumed everyone could, as Mr. Early is quoted as claiming he could get to any place in Berkeley more quickly by bicycle then by car. I simply pointed out that I was unable to get from the marina to my home as quickly by bicycle as I could by car. 

I appreciate Mr. Cohen’s suggestion that I take the 65 bus instead of my car when I wish to visit the marina. I am familiar with that line; it wakes me every morning promptly at 6 a.m. Unfortunately, the current information for AC Transit indicates that it does not run to the Berkeley Marina. 

David Nasatir 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

When are you going to get rid of Richard Brenneman? You’ve had numerous complaints. Mine is with his Police Blotter. His “cuteness” is inappropriate, insulting and offensive. He’s obviously never been a victim of a violent crime. 

If you can’t dismiss him because he’s related to the owner, give him a fiction column to write. Short stories perhaps. He’s a wannabe detective storywriter, dime variety. 

Of if reporters are hard to find, so you feel you can’t afford to dismiss him, do it anyway and leave the space he’d normally fill blank. You’d be doing your readers a favor. 

J. Wilkes