Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday February 20, 2007


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am an avid Cal Fan. My great-grandfather played halfback and his brother quarterback on some of the first teams at Cal. I think there is no reason, however, to sacrifice irreplaceable natural resources for a mere building. There are many other suitable sites and solutions available and I urge you to turn to these solutions.  

Foresight, planning and engineering sustainable human use of our world is the highest form of intellectual behavior. Cal has always been considered a great forum for developing mind and body. But what kind of “highperformance” is it that foregoes the best, most sustainable solution to the pragmatics of timetables or cutting corners? Isn’t it about time that “planning” includes more permanent and sustainable solutions that magnify the grace and beauty of our natural world rather than the “cleverness” of quick solutions that have to be undone later. Unfortunately in this case, there will be no ability to undo the destruction that will be done.  

Please show me that Cal gives a damn about the planet instead of economic pragmatics. Maybe if the Regents returned some of their outrageous salary thefts to the university, an appropriate alternative could be built on time and within budget as well as save our environment. 

While we are at it, why not restore the waterfalls that used to exist in the gully behind the stadium? In fact, why not think about incorporating natural restoration of the surrounding environment as part of every project at Cal? You could have the various departments build student teams to plan, develop and build the projects that would achieve these sustainable projects, thereby placing the university at the cutting edge of education promoting a sane coexistence with earth. 

I love Cal athletics and attend all the Bear football games. I can, but do not want, this pleasurable activity compromised by the knowledge that we are sacrificing a sustainable relationship with Earth! 

And please don’t send me a reply that tries to say that what I have said here is somehow mistaken or try to prove there is any rationalization for destroying the Old Oak Grove! Please! 

Sandy Sanders 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was horrified to learn that the president is thinking of attacking Iran. The result would be huge chaos and human suffering, large additional U.S. troops in the Middle East, and increased world anger at and dislike of the United States. 

U.S. citizens need to do all they can to let members of the House know how strongly we oppose such an attack. Our local congressperson, Barbara Lee, was the first to oppose Bush’s ability to go to war (on Afghanistan I think). It would be good to call or e-mail her. However, the best thing people could do is to e-mail or call friends or relatives in other states, and encourage those friends and relatives to tell their congresspeople how much they oppose a war on Iran. If your friend or relative does not know the name of his or her congressperson, tell your friend or relative to call the nearest public library. 

Julia Craig 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was disappointed to see the  

petitions being circulated to stop the affordable housing project proposed for downtown Berkeley as part of the David Brower Center and Oxford Plaza. In the interest of full disclosure, Resources for Community Development (RCD) helped us with a small affordable housing project several years ago for children and young people with developmental disabilities, the BUiLD house. (This letter represents my own views and not necessarily those of BUiLD, Inc.) RCD staff took the time and devoted the resources necessary to help us navigate the process of providing housing and services for this underserved group of Berkeley residents. I’m certain they will take the time and effort to produce a quality project for downtown Berkeley. 

I’m sure we all know hard-working people with non-profit or other lower wage jobs who struggle each month to afford a decent place to live while providing for the other needs of their children and families. Many of us longtime residents—30 years in my case—who bought our homes years ago would be hard pressed to buy in today’s housing market or maybe even to find a decent place to rent. To argue, as the circulators of the petition do, that the city of Berkeley “gave away” land to RCD is to obscure the fact that RCD is a nonprofit organization that will use the land to provide affordable housing for our fellow city residents. I hope that those of us who live in relative comfort in Berkeley have big enough hearts to want to extend the same opportunity to others who aren’t so fortunate. 

Stephen Rosenbaum 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Perhaps I am still young enough to be considered a “younger rider” of AC Transit but I suspect I have fallen out of that category. However, I enjoy riding the Van Hool buses; in fact I get excited when I see one of them approaching over the other buses in the fleet. I’m a stay-at-home mom and ride the bus several times a week with my young son. Van Hool’s make it so easy to get a stroller on and off the bus. The other buses have narrow aisles and multiple stairs that make it much harder to take a stroller on our journeys. If I knew I would be picked up by a Van Hool every time, I would not have to think twice about taking the stroller.  

I think we neglect to remember that the vast majority of individuals that turn out to public meetings dislike an item on the agenda, while those who are not against it are perfectly content and stay home. How can people be so upset about a type of bus? Why not focus on buses keeping their schedule, adding more routes to underserved communities, increasing the frequency of service, or having bus drivers that don’t endanger your life by talking on the phone or wearing headphones. These seem to be issues that would better serve our community, not outcry over the type of bus that picks us up each day.  

K. Karver 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Helen Burke and I have sometimes found ourselves on opposite sides of political debate in Berkeley, but I have always recognized her as a person of integrity. Now, serving with Helen on the DAPAC, I have come to appreciate how extraordinarily effective she is in shepherding her green and sustainable vision for Berkeley into reality. I believe it is precisely Helen’s efficacy as an environmental leader that was being targeted in the recent shabby machinations at the Planning Commission when Helen was ousted and David Stoloff, a former UC planner, installed as chair, with Jim Samuels, his pro-developer colleague, promoted to vice-chair. 

The Downtown Area Plan developed by the DAPAC will be submitted to the Planning Commission for action at the end of the year. This coup places development interests firmly in the driver’s seat when this happens. As Stoloff is Mayor Bates’ appointee to Planning, the question arises if Bates is truly committed to a sustainable Berkeley. How he handles this situation will give an important clue as to whether the mayor actually believes in a green future for Berkeley or is merely engaged in politically motivated greenwashing.  

Whatever happens, this nastiness should act as a flashing red light to those analyzing the pros and cons of Stoloff’s plans for North Shattuck. If we have learned any one thing from this sorry affair, it is that David Stoloff will lie to get what he wants. 

Patti Dacey  




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Although tradition suggests that commission chairs serve for two one-year terms, no one has a right to automatic election to a second term. As past chair of two commissions myself, I know that re-election is something that must be earned. It is because Helen Burke has so clearly paid her dues, and provided inspiration to so many in the East Bay, that I am surprised and disappointed with the action taken by the majority of the Planning Commission. 

Helen looms large as a presence in the Berkeley environmental community due to her past positions as an elected member of the EBMUD board and on the staff of the regional U.S. EPA, as well as her decades of Sierra Club activism. As a fellow member of the DAPAC and in many other ways over the years, I have worked closely with Helen. She is creative, well-informed, a proven leader, and entirely dedicated to the community. We are lucky to have her help while Berkeley strives to define its future during a time of university expansion. I hope that the new chair thinks about what he has done and decides to step aside just for 12 whole months to allow Helen to finish her work. He will probably have other chances to be chair.  

Steven Weissman 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I find it absolutely unbelievable that a building named after dedicated environmentalist David Brower has been allowed by the city to go ahead without an environmental impact report.  

I find it astonishing that the city of Berkeley plans to hand over to developers one of the last parking lots in the downtown for one dollar when the land is appraised at $5.7 million.  

I find it beyond credulity that the city is willing to invest $10 million in this building and guarantee millions more when it has been saying for years that it doesn’t have enough money keep fire stations open full time. 

I wonder how already stressed downtown businesses will survive with the removal of 135 parking spaces from the lot being given away to developers and the proposed closing of Center Street to parking and cars. 

I know Tom Bates, the developer/ mayor, started his working life in the real estate business but I hadn’t realized he was intent on re-enacting the Dick Cheney-Halliburton scenario from City Hall. 

Art Goldberg 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Bush’s Iraqi end game for Iraq is as rational as the lunacy in Vietnam where a village had to be destroyed to save it. Bush will have his “surge” and thus have more killing and dying to prevent more killing and dying. At least until he can declare “mission accomplished,” blame the Iraqis, and hand the lingering mess over to the next administration. 

When destruction is salvation, there is little rational need to bother differentiating between failure and success. But the game played by the self-righteous right is to place the blame for their failures onto unworthy others. This is well reflected by one of Bush’s sideline cheerleader in the words that compared the necessity of prevailing in Iraq to the outcome of the conflict in Vietnam.  

“Had we never gotten in, and the same sort of thing happened in the end, it would have been all Southeast Asia’s problem. However, once we committed ourselves, we had a duty to ourselves and to them to conclude it successfully.” 

Sam Osborne 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Last issue, Sabrina Kabella wrote of her alarm that there are homeless people in Willard Park, imploring others to press civic authorities and not allow “the city to ignore this problem.” But—what problem is that? The problem that these people don’t have homes? Or that they are in “her” park? 

I could tell that Sabrina and I may not be in especial accord or understanding when she wondered what possible use anyone might have for a park at 10 p.m., if not playing basketball or tennis. But if she has no use for the park then, just what is her outrage about others using it? 

Christopher Kohler 






Editors, Daily Planet: 

Another Modest Proposal: Rising tides? Flooded cities? Not just Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and world tsunamis and flooding. 

On February 18, 2007, Bay Conservation and Development Commission maps and details were published by the San Francisco Chronicle that showed destructive impacts of a potential one-meter rise in sea level that would raise San Francisco Bay and flood bayside cities. 

A proposal: Governments, citizens, and experts should gather together to openly develop a Bay Area flood protection program. Options to consider could include relocating low-lying structures, barricading threatened sites, and studying feasibility of an environmentally sensitive, adjustable dike-lock system, possibly near the bridges and comparable to sophisticated systems in London, Holland, Japan, and elsewhere.  

Flood protection might also include an early warning system to help protect the Bay Area from tsunamis, which have hit the West Coast for millenia. 

We still must stop poisonous pollution which scientists say is also causing global warming and projected rising of sea levels. However, as we struggle to stop pollution and global warming, protecting cities and millions of people from flooding would help protect against disaster. We have earthquakes, we do not need floods. 

Patrick T. Keilch,  

Retired Deputy Director of Public Works/Energy Officer, City of Berkeley 




I am writing in order to draw your attention to the Anjomane Padeshahi Iran or the Kingdom Assembly of Iran under the leadership of Dr. Frood Fouladvand. He is a prominent historian and political researcher who speaks several languages including Arabic and who has many followers in Iran and around the world. 

Mr. Fouladvand, after months of unjustly being denied his travel documents, which were seized in a raid by the British MI5 forces on the eve of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s presidential elections, has through the help of an Iranian lawyer in London been able to retrieve his travel documents. He is now journeying to Iran where he will join forces with members of Anjomane Padeshahi in Iran at an undisclosed date. He currently delivers short messages which are broadcasted on Anjomane Padeshahi Iran’s International television channel, which is solely dedicated to the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran. 

Anjomane Padeshahi Iran has set out on the last stages of Operation Tondar (Thunder), which it hopes will achieve the “Liberation of Iran” and other nations from terrorist regime of Islamic Republic of Iran before the Iranian New Year, Norooz (March 21, 2007). 

I would like you to pay attention to Dr. Fouladvand’s endeavor, which is very important for the world’s peace. 

Name Withheld