Letters to the Editor

Friday July 30, 2004


Editor, Daily Planet: 

Let me see if I have got this right. Iraq is once again a sovereign nation, with an independent government, answerable to the Iraqi people. They can determine their own policies. If they see fit, they can even decide to legalize same-sex marriages, and George Bush couldn’t do anything to stop them. 

They can sell their oil to whomever they want, at whatever price they want. Or can get. 

So why do we have so many troops over there? It’s a sovereign nation right? We’re not building empire, right? 


Marion Syrek 




Editor, Daily Planet: 

I like the Police Blotter very much. Very clever and creative. Thanks. 

Richard List 




Editor, Daily Planet: 

It is deplorable that the Zoning Adjustments Board chose to ignore the Solano Avenue Planning Ordinance in unanimously upholding the La Farine variance. The Solano Plan is the product of hundreds of hours of work by neighbors, community members, and the Planning Commission. The Solano Plan is part of Berkeley’s zoning regulations and should be respected unless truly extraordinary circumstances arise. The La Farine application, in which the business requested 12 seats for interior dining, is ploddingly ordinary. 

Twelve seats on Solano are not a big deal until one looks at the context. The seats officially make La Farine a restaurant, a use which is over capacity on Solano. La Farine’s reason for a variance (seating as an ancillary use) is specifically prohibited by the plan.  

In the larger context, ZAB’s unanimous decision is a clear statement that intensive community-based and city-approved neighborhood planning is to be respected only when convenient for the realtors and developers of the city. The rest of us—the apparently deluded community—are ignored. This affects every neighborhood which has worked (sometimes for years: West Berkeley, University Avenue) to create carefully balanced, inclusive visions of a future Berkeley.  

This November, we can vote to respect neighborhood-based plans by careful vetting of our choices for City Council. 

Jesse Townley 




Editor, Daily Planet: 

While school was in session, there was a conspicuous drip flowing out of the brand new $35-million-dollar building at Berkeley High School, and across the sidewalk on Milvia Street. Now there’s a brown stain on the sidewalk. A cursory inspection shows that this drip is coming from the new swimming pool. If the pool is heated, and the air conditioning (HVAC) is running, this means that the HVAC system is constantly trying to drain the humidity which the heated pool is constantly producing. The pool has no cover.  

The new building at BHS uses as much energy as the entire rest of the campus, and the pool is probably a big contributor to energy waste. BUSD needs pool covers which should be used whenever the pool is not used, no matter how inconvenient the staff may find it. The pool covers insulate the water, reducing both heat loss and evaporation. This should cut down on some of the new building’s energy use. I hope all hot water pipes are insulated; including the recirculating pipes from the pool to the heater. If not, they should be insulated immediately. PG&E provides rebates for specific types of pipe insulation that this site would quality for. 

The new BHS building looks directly at the city’s Energy Office, which is staffed with recognized experts on energy. Even though BHS didn’t consult the Energy Office during the design or construction of the new building, it’s still not too late to stop energy gluttony. Instead of paying PG&E, let’s put that money towards education. 

Yolanda Huang 




Editor, Daily Planet: 

All the articles on new housing developments in Berkeley always seem to indicate that the developer has to provide some low-income units. It seems that to make such a development financially feasible, they then include retail on the ground floor. It has been observed that there is retail space available all over town. Some housing developments include retail spaces that are too small for anything profitable. 

Here’s an idea: Why not make housing developments include no retail, but in areas where there already is retail (groceries, coffee, hardware, etc.) include homeless studios? They could be small, with a Pullman kitchen, triangle shower/bath/sink combo. They could be for really low-income folks, too. I believe many chronic homeless in Berkeley get some kind of disability income, or other money; this way, they could perhaps have subsidized housing?  

Let’s think of a solution for low-income, and/or homeless folks, who generally don’t have cars needing parking, either! 

Colleen Houlihan 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Further to a correspondent’s recent letter regarding Richard Brenneman’s use of Anglo-Saxon monosyllables, your correspondent might like to know that yesterday, my wife asked me to hang a picture for her, even though she knows that I am not a handyman. My electric drill soon ran out of juice, so I used my brace and bit instead. The brace held the bit securely and did the job. So far so good. In fact my wife was so pleased, she embraced me. But brace yourself for the end of the story: In coming down the ladder, I slipped. My belt was torn in two, so I now have to use braces to hold up my trousers (I am from England, where suspenders are worn by women). I also wrenched my neck, which is now held steady in a brace. And I also bashed my mouth. Fortunately the new (and very expensive) braces which I wear on my teeth held firm. Oh, the perils of venturing into alien territory!  

B. Orpington. 




Editor, Daily Planet: 

Thanks for publishing Lowell Moorecroft’s letter regarding UC library’s policy about stacks. Too bad he didn’t mention the decreased access to public information on the Internet at that library. It seems that UC Berkeley is becoming a country club. Read “Rich Only.” 

John Delmos 




Editor, Daily Planet: 

Thanks for printing Lowell Moorcroft’s letter about how “the California citizen, under the new procedures, can only obtain a monthly [Cal libraries] stack pass, renew it once, and then must pay $100 to obtain a yearly library card, which includes library privileges.” As far as I know, everyone is eligible to join the UC Berkeley Alumni Association for half that amount, which includes a stack pass and 20 percent discount on all items at the ASUC store. What is no longer included for alumni association members is Internet access. It is now required that the Internet user have a faculty/staff/student account number. Novartis researchers are considered “associates,” and hence are Internet eligible. But this procedure lets out the public: It also lets out the alumni—some hundreds of thousands strong.  

The only library to allow any public access whatsoever is the Law Library—which allows 15 minutes, standing. Even that is regression to the 1950s, as far as I can see. Those five African-American students in 1960 at that lunch counter in Greensboro could order everything on the menu, and eat throughout the hot afternoon as long as they remained standing. The most disturbing thing of all is that the reference librarians of Doe and Moffitt libraries demand to approve or disapprove research topics of one-day users, regardless of residency. 

Richard Thompsonª