Public Comment

SOSIP—Berkeley Planners’ Latest Acronym

By Merrilie Mitchell
Thursday February 04, 2010 - 08:52:00 AM

The SOSIP Community Meeting will be held Sat., Feb. 6, at 10 a.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 


Sounding like a character from Dr. Seuss (who wrote The Grinch who Stole Christmas), the SOSIP stands for Streets and Open Space Improvement Plan—zzzzzzzzzz. 

  But SOSIP involves grants to change downtown, and some planners have actually admitted that the SOSIP is a carefully-crafted strategy to bypass the successful Referendum on Mayor Bates’ Downtown Plan. Remember? Stalkers and blockers were paid by Livable (for Manhattanization) Berkeley to obstruct signature gathering for the Referendum. Ugly it was, yet signature gatherers prevailed and the Mayor/City Council Downtown Plan was put on hold. Supposedly. 

  Do you remember when Mr. Bates first ran for mayor in 2002 and was caught stealing Daily Cal newspapers that endorsed Shirley Dean for Mayor. Bates denied the stealing to police until after the election when he was declared winner. Then Mr.Bates was sworn-in up in the hills at his lawyer’s house—because the community was in uproar! If Bates had told the truth before the election, many voters would have changed their vote and he would never have become our Mayor. 

  Some say, “Bates stole the election, and now he is stealing our city.” I agree. He is not serving the people he was elected to serve, but giving Berkeley away to UC Berkeley development—Downtown, Straw-berry Canyon, West Berkeley, and incredible deals for big developers. 

Mayor Bates is not like a Grinch (or Scrooge)—he’s not a mean, bitter person who changes for the good for the little guys like the people of Berkeley. Bates is in with the big guys! A former real estate broker and 20-year Sacramento-style politician, he sits on all the big regional boards and is implementing the regional development strategy that incentivizes development above all things. Mayor Bates told folks early on, when they asked for help, that he was sorry, but his priority was getting Berkeley developed. 

  Is getting Berkeley developed the right priority for our city, one of the densest in California? 

Bates development strategies cut the trees, pollute air, block the sun, sky and green views; permit filthy sidewalks downtown, which hurt business; invite big-city diesel BRT-type buses to replace our local buses; and so on. This is an agenda of phony green baloney strategies to create deals for developers. The SOSIP is more of same. 


Merrilie Mitchell is a Berkeley resident.