Public Comment

Bait and Switch Works Again
at 740 Heinz in West Berkeley

By Tree Fitzpatrick
Friday January 25, 2013 - 08:39:00 AM

Thanks to Curtis Manning and the Daily Planet for publishing his well reasoned argument, with lots of specific detail, for all the reasons why what the city is trying to pull with 740 Heinz subverts the 'no' vote against the West Berkeley development measure on the November 2012 ballot. It seems clear that our public servants, including city staff and elected representatives do not pay actual attention to the laws and actual facts when they make zoning adjustments and approve developments that contravene the people's will. Mr. Manning's detailed analysis should have prevented the city council from blithely approving Wareham's new proposal which greatly alters the zoning of West Berkeley. Shame on them. 

It is so sickening to see Berkeley's putative leaders and civil servants repeatedly and, imho, with a disingenuous phoniness, repeatedly try to override the will of the commons, of the citizenry. The measure lost, yet the Zoning Adjustment board allowed Wareham's new design which aligns with the failed measure. Do votes mean anything to our elected leaders and city staff?!! It would seem not. It seems like all that matters is a mindless belief that more development is always better.  

I've been thinking lately, and, trust me, I am not a student of the Christian Bible, of the story in the Bible where Moses leads his people out of Egypt through the miraculous parting of the Red Sea. For one shining moment, his people trust him completely. Then the leader, seeking only to do what is right, goes into the desert for forty days and nights, to commune with his God. When he returns, allegedly with the ten commandments etched on two stone tablets, his people have put together all their gold, created a golden calf and are worshiping it. Is that what he led them through the Red Sea for, to worship gold? 

When is Berkeley going to start making public decisions with integrity, transparency and in alignment with the view of the voters? Real estate developers and business people seem to have more 'rights' with our city than we the people do. Our public servants and many of us seem to worship a golden calf, the illusion that all growth is good growth and all development is right. It's not just a quaint, old-fashioned thing, the idea of a democracy that respects the will of the people. The idea is that there is wisdom in democratic voting. Instead of trying to find ways around our vote against the West Berkeley Measurement (was it 'T"? -- I lose track of the alphabet when I think of voting measures), our city staff and council should be bending over backwards to honor the defeat of Measure T. 

I don't have it in me anymore to write cogent, detailed arguments like Mr. Manning's that deconstruct the chicanery passing as public process for 740 Heinz, so thanks to Mr. Manning and thanks to the Daily Planet for publishing his work.