The Berkeley Daily Planet reported on the joint Planning Commission-Creeks Task Force (CTF) workshop that took place on Jan. 25. As a member of the CTF who has attended every CTF meeting—save one—over the past year, I found myself surprised at some of the conclusions and opinions that were expressed by those interviewed for Richard Brenneman’s Jan. 27 article. Speaking only for myself and not the Creeks Task Force, allow me to point out where I think Mr. Brenneman and those he interviewed are either wrong or have mischaracterized what we have so far achieved on the CTF.
1) Owners of creekside properties are not foreclosed from adding on to existing structures. The ordinance simply prevents them from building INTO the 30 foot setback. Preventing construction too close to a creek is a reasonable restriction and prevents significant impacts to the creek and other upstream and downstream properties.
2) The CTF is precluded from discussing who should bear the financial responsibility for the repair and maintenance of existing culverts. The city is currently engaged in litigation with homeowners, insurance companies, and the university over who bears the financial responsibility for repairing the failing culvert at the end of North Valley Street. The people of Berkeley are going to have to address this issue soon, but it will not be the CTF that does so.
3) People may be “terrified” that the city will FORCE (emphasis added) them to daylight their culvert as you reported, but to my knowledge, no one on the CTF has ever encouraged or advocated for this position. It is my personal belief that if a section of culvert is failing, one of options that should be considered is that the culvert be removed and the creek opened up. Should this option be the most reasonable, the cost should not fall entirely on the shoulders of the homeowner. The CTF should make recommendations on how to “incentivize” this option so that the cost is shared.
4) Finally, the dates for the public meetings are: Feb. 15 and March 22 and will be held at the North Berkeley Senior Center. All who have an interest in these issues, whether you reside next to a creek, have experienced flooding in your neighborhood, or want to encourage the development of healthier creeks and watersheds, should definitely plan to attend.
Tom Kelly is a Berkeley resident.›