Letters to the Editor

Tuesday July 27, 2004


Editor, Daily Planet: 

Your article about Actors Ensemble seemed to do a serious disservice to this theater company. 

In the first place, the article never stated when and where the production would be staged, thereby making it vague/difficult for interested theatergoers to go forward and buy tickets. In the second place, the writer put such an emphasis on the “amateur” status of the company, that it came through as disrespectful and undermining the high quality of this long-standing theater group. Statements like “these guys are obviously mildly insane...” may have been intended as humor, but came across to me as essentially demeaning. To write: “there’s even a bathroom...” in their performing space sounded downright silly. 

I am eager to see this Albee play directed by the experienced hand of Mikel Clifford. Perhaps you might assign a more mature journalist to your next coverage of the Actors Ensemble. 

Emily Loeb 




Editor, Daily Planet: 

Some things never change. Yes, its déjà vu all over again for advocates of affordable housing in Berkeley. 

About 18 years ago I was a member of the Mayor’s Site Committee for Low Income Public Housing (LIPH). The 61 units of scattered Section 8 housing cost $6 million and was completed around 1990, but not before threatened lawsuits, picketing, and the threatened recall of school boardmembers who voted for the use of district land. I am proud of my small part in the completion of this project, though the struggle against the NIMBYS is one that I’ll never forget. 

Now the AHA/Outback project is being threatened by lawsuits. Why? Because of its housing for seniors and disabled. 

Ms. Bowman and her supporters protest that the lawsuits are about trees, parking and due process, and that housing advocates are being “used” by the Grey Panthers. Suuuuure, we’re just old folks ranting and raving because we have nothing else to do! 

It seems that no one mentions height limits or trees or parking until phrases like “affordable,” “low income” or “Section 8” come into play. Look around you, Ms. Bowman. There seem to be no standards for a lot of the housing east of Shattuck, both North and South of Campus. They aren’t particularly well built or affordable. If you and your friends aren’t NIMBYS, then I’m Hillary Clinton. 

I’d like to mention that there is particular need for this type of housing. The senior homes that I have visited, Harriet Tubman, Strawberry Creek Lodge, Redwood Gardens, are wonderful places, well-maintained and enjoyed by the seniors and even have a positive impact on the city as a whole. Yes these wonderful, activist, quiet neighbors deserve more of the same. We all benefit from this. 

So, let’s stop the nonsense and get the Outback project built! 

Edith Monk Hallberg 




Editor, Daily Planet: 

The university representative at a recent Berkeley City Council meeting rattled off several things the university does and provides from which Berkeley residents benefit, expressed in nonspecifics so vague as to be unimpressive. It reminded this voter of the slinky discontinuance of two services that cost the university little or nothing! Perhaps their elimination slipped by because then, as now, the university and the city were at busy junctures and they served populations that are not efficiently “political” or monied: (1) When the people’s Commute Store met its demise, the campus shuttle continued for university personnel, but free passes for community members were eliminated. (2) When the new campus main library facility became was opened, free library loan cards for senior citizens were eliminated. Lowell Moorcroft’s July 23 letter about library stacks belies the non-response I received alleging that only I objected to the library’s new policies. 

Helen Rippier Wheeler 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It’s good to see that, in the July 23-26 Police Blotter, Richard Brenneman has abandoned the flip remarks. But have they been replaced by impenetrable language? In that edition he refers to three teenagers who “braced” a woman, a gunman who “braced” a pedestrian, and four men who “braced” another man. The current edition of Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary gives many uses and examples of the word brace, but Brenneman’s isn’t one of them. What on earth is he talking about? 

Revan Tranter 




Editor, Daily Planet: 

As co-founder of Ohlone Park and People’s Park I wish to endorse and empirically support the wonderful Karl Linn’s statement that “Community gardens not only grow fresh produce close to home, they also grow community among neighbors and friends, which makes neighborhood life much more meaningful and secure. To fill every vacant lot...jeopardizes the opportunity for residents to develop a growing sense of community” (“Growing Soil and Community,” Daily Planet, July 23-26). 

Today I walked through the vibrant community garden in Ohlone Park and talked with the community gardeners as they harvested organic squash, strawberries, green beans, lettuce, chard, flowers and tomatoes, chili peppers, cilantro, Italian parsley and so much more from the individual and communal raised beds.  

The only reason this garden exists is through the active expression of members of the North Berkeley community over the years starting in 1969 when 500 people made a picnic and bonfire there and planted vegetables to show BART and other right of way owners that the land should not be fenced in just because of what may lie underneath. Over the years the Ohlone Greenway and Ohlone Park and Ohlone Community Garden have been enhanced with play structures, dog park, gardens and intimate paths and landscaping. Everyone is welcome; community input is desirable and essential. The soil is extremely fertile from long cultivation (as is the 12-are Gill Tract owned by UC Berkeley in Albany and threatened with extinction an eviction of community gardens and gardeners). 

The neighborhood is enhanced, both by the numerous cul-de-sacs (whose existence is due to the park) that keep traffic away and by the nightly and weekend meeting places that have sprung up informally. 

If anyone wants to see Karl Linn’s utopian vision in action, they would do well to visit Ohlone Park. Then please offer support to keep other community gardens vibrant and growing and look around for a place to start one near you.  

Success does not happen overnight; everyone is a volunteer with bustling lives of survival and many parents up to their eyeballs in childrearing. That is why the South Berkeley Community Garden needs a longer lease on life. 

Wendy Schlesinger, 

Chairman, Gardens on Wheels Association 




Editor, Daily Planet: 

Did you know you can receive a $30 parking ticket in Berkeley even if your meter is not expired? In my case, I had been to the YMCA and then decided to shop at the Berkeley Farmers Market and have lunch. I put more money in the meter, but when I returned to my car I found a ticket for “extending meter time.” Apparently, even if you later put more money in, you cannot park in a spot longer than the normal maximum meter time. I have lived in Berkeley for more than 30 years and neither I nor several of my friends were aware of this policy. Tickets of this kind seem extremely unwise when downtown Berkeley wants to compete with other shopping areas that offer completely free parking (examples: Fourth Street, El Cerrito Plaza, Emeryville). 

Michael Fullerton 




Editor, Daily Planet: 

Thank you for your reporting and explaining of last Tuesday’s City Council voter initiative machinations. As a 30-year Berkeley resident and homeowner, as well as a disabled medical cannabis medical patient, kindly entertain briefly a few of my impressions. 

As a citizen, I appreciate and respect the amount of work and the number of issues each of our City Council members must deal with. However, I believe the medical cannabis voter initiative, Patients’ Access to Medical Cannabis (PAMCA), with more effort from the BCC last April, wouldn’t be necessary. The hastily called “ad hoc” subcommittee meeting on PAMCA language shut out the public and again stifled the discussion and further displayed the BCC’s reluctance to address medical cannabis patients’ concerns. On C-Span Book TV this past weekend, I saw William F. Buckley support medical cannabis use and state that practically no American politician wanted to face directly this particular issue . Amen. 

As a medical cannabis patient, it seems clear that earlier fears and mistrust from the BCC have turned to outright hostility- sharp, shrill, and uncompassionate. This was just as evident in City Attorney Manuela Albuquerque’s subcommittee decision. To my way of thinking (and bless you Kriss Worthington), patients’ access to and the dispensing of their medicine is important and difficult enough to deserve full, complete public hearing and consideration. I wish the BCC previously had been so eager to learn more and understand better and act accordingly, regarding medical cannabis issues, as they were Tuesday night to vote their opposition to PAMCA. 

I strongly urge Berkeley voters to support PAMCA, and I welcome in the upcoming voter initiative campaign discussion, the sharing of facts, information, and points of view.  

Charles Pappas