Letters to the Editor

Tuesday November 30, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was hit by a car and knocked to the street while walking in the crosswalk at Gilman Street and Santa Fe on Tuesday morning, Nov. 23, at approximately 8:15 a.m. The woman who hit me had been heading south on Santa Fe and was making a left turn onto Gilman Street, heading east. She hit me as I was crossing from the corner where the Westbrae Deli is to the corner where Toot Sweets Bakery is. She said she didn’t see me, which was apparent, since she didn’t hit her brakes until she actually hit me. I was able to stand up after being hit, but I was so shocked and angry that I failed to get either her name or her license plate number. She was driving a bright red Volvo station wagon, relatively new model (or at least in mint condition, if older than a few years), and had at least one, if not two, very young children in car seats in the back seat. She was Caucasian, possibly late 30s-early 40s, shoulder length light brown hair, and was wearing sunglasses. She offered to pull to the side of the road, but again, I wasn’t thinking clearly, and just wanted to get out of the street. If you have any information about this accident, please contact the Daily Planet so that they may forward it to me. Thank you for your help with this, and please, watch out for pedestrians in crosswalks! 

Nora Hale 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was very interested in—and shocked by—your Nov. 19 article “UC’s Toxics Decision Impacts Campus Bay Site.” In 1995 the Department of Toxics Substances Control disclosed “high levels of mercury, arsenic and lead” in Richmond Field Station samples and “very high levels of arsenic in sediments from the portion of Stege Marsh adjoining the site.” 

My husband, William Berges, was a librarian at the Richmond Field Station from 1956-1985 when he retired because of illness. He died of lung cancer in 1987. 

I am very upset, but also glad that the public is now aware of the lethal dangers incurred by university employees. 

Frances H. Berges 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I write to provide some additional information and to correct any misperceptions readers might have from the Daily Planet article “UC Toxics Decision Impacts Campus Bay Site.” In particular, my comments address the cleanup of historic industrial contamination at the neighboring University of California’s Richmond Field Station (RFS). 

To date the university has spent over $15 million dollars at the RFS on site cleanup and restoration of the native tidal marsh that includes habitat for the endangered California clapper rail. We are proud of our extensive and on-going efforts to interact with the public regarding cleanup activities, which has included public presentations, regular outreach by e-mail and a project website (www.cp.berkeley.edu/RFS_MarshRR.html). The campus has maintained good working relations with more than a dozen environmental agencies and community advocacy groups involved with the project. Feedback, including that from staff of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), has been overwhelmingly positive. 

The university was not allowed a choice of which agency would serve in the lead role on the RFS site. The university was in the process of evaluating site contamination and proposed research uses when the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) issued a mandatory site remediation order in 2001. Because the RFS site has been identified as a water contamination risk, RWQCB is the lead agency on the project. Nevertheless, many other regulatory agencies have been actively involved in this work. 

The university has also worked to involve the community in the marsh restoration by partnering with the nonprofit Watershed Project. If any readers wish to participate in the recovery of this valuable tidal marsh, there are a number of upcoming opportunities. Planting native plants in clean marsh lands will take place the third Saturday of each month. For information on the project and volunteer opportunities, please visit the Watershed Project’s website : www.thewatershedproject.org. 

Mark Freiberg 

Director, Environment, Health and Safety, 

UC Berkeley 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am writing to clarify the Sierra Club’s position on the Berkeley creeks ordinance which was incorrectly stated Jerry Landis’ commentary piece (“Sierra Club Backs Creeks Task Force Plan,” Daily Planet, Nov. 23-25). The article attacked the Sierra Club for lacking “social balance” without listing any specific policies the Sierra Club has taken positions on. 

In fact, the Northern Alameda County Group supports an open process with diverse viewpoints, rather than a two-sided process with polarized participants. The Sierra Club supports reasonable efforts to protect and daylight creeks, restore habitat, and improve bay water quality. The City Council recognized these goals when the original creeks ordinance was adopted. Stakeholders now have to opportunity to work with new information to improve Berkeley’s strategy for environmental protection in a way that is fair to homeowners. 

There are diverse viewpoints both within the club and the environmental community as a whole. This is why the Sierra Club democratically elects leadership at all levels, considers all sides before taking a position, and supports sending representatives to collaborative negotiations like the task force. 

With many creek culverts failing and the need for clarification in the ordinance, it is time to come together for a solution. 

Andy Katz 

Sierra Club Conservation Chair 

Northern Alameda County 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I want to clarify that in my Nov. 23 commentary, the headline “Sierra Club Backs Creeks Task Force Plan” was added by Daily Planet editors.  

Nowhere in the letter do I suggest that the Sierra Club backs the task force plan, nor do I know that they do, but someone may infer, as I do, that, given their interest in creeks activism, they may support it. That they endeavor to influence local elections is indisputable.  

Jerry Landis 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Pierre Vladimir Stroud has presented the best analysis I have seen of what the Democrats must do to win (“Democrats, Progressives Need to Redefine America’s Public Morality,” Daily Planet, Nov. 23-25). For more than 20 years a constant right-wing drumbeat has branded liberal ideas of social conscience and the common good as “old and failed.” The result is an atmosphere of greedy, self-centered callousness that worships wealth and celebrity and is all too willing to toss those deemed less than worthy “off the island.” Even many self-styled “Christians” seem to think that Jesus loves them best, and that He hates anyone who is not exactly like them. 

Fortunately, most serious studies show that these are not the view of the majority of Americans. However, most who vote seem to use gut-feelings rather than logic to make their choices. As I was a public school teacher for 40 years, I still believe education works. People can be taught to see cause and effect relationships, and, one can hope, act appropriately. 

Judith Wiese 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

When Berkeley’s new City Council considers how best to close our $7.5 million budget deficit, its members might want to take a close look at the largest line item on the spending summary, the Public Works Department’s $77 million. Though Oakland is over five times Berkeley’s size (56.1 square miles vs. 10.5) and has almost four times our population (399,484 vs. 102,743), it spends only 30 percent more on public works ($100 million). To put it another way, Berkeley spends three times as much per person ($750 vs. $250) and four times as much per square mile ($7.34 million vs. $1.78 million). Surely some of that difference is due to inefficiency and waste that could be trimmed without reducing services. 

Robert Lauriston 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In response to Matthew Artz’s article on the Big Game (“Berkeley-Stanford Big Game Means Big Headache for Stadium Neighbors,” Daily Planet, Nov. 23-25), I would like to say I am one of the long-term Panoramic Hill neighbors that enjoys having the football stadium within easy access and I am strongly in favor of a thorough seismic renovation of the facility. 

I have lived at the base of Panoramic Way for nearly 20 years and have enjoyed the ease of walking to the football stadium. Now that I have young children I have the added bonus of sharing the experience with them. My children enjoy watching the games and particularly like the marching bands and all of the excitement that comes with college football. I feel the city and the university do a great job ensuring a safe and pleasant family experience while I am watching the Bears play. Regardless of what Coach Tedford decides, I believe the stadium needs to be renovated and improved for everyone’s safety and benefit. I am not in favor of permanent lighting but I would support retractable lighting. 

I admit that for roughly six or eight afternoons a year there is significant noise and congestion in and around the stadium area. Those afternoons may be a perfect opportunity for those that do not attend the game to enjoy a movie downtown, go to the library or visit friends and take a stroll down at Cesar Chavez Park. I don’t expect everyone to be a football fan but for the few afternoons a year that non-football fans are inconvenienced there are plenty of places to visit and get away from the noise and people.  

John Benson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I thoroughly enjoyed Marcia Lau’s “She’s Not Intimidated By Mad Yelling” (Daily Planet, Nov. 19-22) and was surprised at the response it received. P. Levitt writes (Letters, Nov. 23-25), “Old buildings, some poorly placed and designed (by previous communities who did not plan smart growth), will burn down, fall down, come into dis-use, or will not be economical to maintain”. 

Well, yes, occasionally an old building burns to the ground, but in downtown Berkeley they usually come down with the aid of a bulldozer and an ABAG loan. 

Our local monument to “smart growth” has hardly been economical to maintain. The Gaia building’s $10 million repair job apparently has failed again—the scaffolding and shroud have reappeared for yet another unsightly round of repairs. 

As for our non-vital downtown movie theaters, how can they thrive? A developer just demolished the parking garage where moviegoers parked!  

Gale Garcia