The Week



Tours of Harold Way Project Impact Area in Berkeley on Friday and Sunday (Event)

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Thursday August 27, 2015 - 10:13:00 AM

There will be two walking tours of the area impacted by 2211 Harold Way on Friday and Sunday of this week. Included in the walking tour will be a review of the project plans. If you have not looked at the architectural plans and/or walked the area, this is an opportunity to understand what's proposed. -more-

New: Claims in Application for 2211 Way Are Not Correct, According to Surveyor

Charlene M. Woodcock
Wednesday August 26, 2015 - 01:20:00 PM

an open letter to members of the Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board

1) My concern is with the ongoing effort of the developers of 2211 Harold Way to downplay the height and volume of this proposed building and the failure to provide story poles to demonstrate its dimensions. Every architect's drawing and certainly the model brought to the ZAB, DRC, and LPC meetings show the proposed building to be about the same height as the Great Western and Wells Fargo buildings and thus in keeping with the DAP height limits.

However, it is obvious that an 18-story building is by necessity taller than a 12- or 14-story building, the height of our existing tall buildings downtown. Given this puzzle, and the repeated statements in the 2010 Measure R and the Downtown Area Plan that our existing tall buildings are 180 feet, I asked a surveyor to give us precise measurements for those buildings, since their height dictates the height of any new tall downtown buildings.

The result shows that they are indeed more than 10 feet shorter to the roofline than the proposed 2211 Harold Way building.See the surveyor's letter here. -more-

Press Release: More Gentrification, Displacement in Bay Area Forecast

By Kathleen Maclay, UC Berkeley Media Relations
Wednesday August 26, 2015 - 04:16:00 PM

The San Francisco Bay Area’s transformation into a sprawling, exclusive and high-income community with less and less room for its low-income residents is just beginning, according to UC Berkeley researchers who literally have it all mapped out.

The interactive Urban Displacement Project map, released today by a Berkeley team, indicates the displacement crisis is not yet half over, as rising housing prices and pressure on low-income residents to relocate to the outer suburbs accelerate. -more-

New: Berkeley's Progressives: Fighting to Make Gentrification Even Worse

Thomas Lord
Wednesday August 26, 2015 - 03:57:00 PM

Berkeley has an affordable housing crisis.

Berkeley's progressive politicians are making gentrification worse and setting the city up for a dismal future.

We need new and much better thinking than affordable unit requirements and in lieu fees. -more-

New: Will Your Neighborhood Gentrify Next? (Public Comment)

Elisa Cooper
Wednesday August 26, 2015 - 02:22:00 PM

Are telephone poles in your neighborhood plastered with signs offering easy cash if you sell your house now? Has the house on the corner been flipped three times in the last year? Do you live in terror having to move in the current insane rent environment? Did a “Starbucks Effect” bomb just drop on on your neighborhood?

If so, your neighborhood might be suffering the effects of gentrification.

If you’re still disoriented and confused and not sure if your neighborhood is suffering from the effects of rampant property speculation, U.C. Berkeley researchers have developed an app for that. -more-

Councilmember Arreguin Proposes Berkeley Ban on Tobacco Sales to Youth under 21

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Tuesday August 25, 2015 - 09:46:00 PM

Berkeley City Councilman Jesse Arreguin proposed today to ban the sale of tobacco to youths under 21, saying there's been an alarming increase of underage tobacco use, including a large jump in the use of electronic cigarettes. -more-

New: Thieves Smash UC Berkeley Police Chief's SUV to Steal Gun, Badge

Scott Morris (BCN)
Monday August 24, 2015 - 05:33:00 PM

A gun stolen from University of California at Berkeley police Chief Margo Bennett's SUV as she jogged at the Point Isabel Regional Shoreline in Richmond on Friday morning was not secured except being in the locked SUV, a UC Berkeley police lieutenant said today. -more-

Berkeley Ecology Center Employee Freed by ICE

Sara Gaiser (BCN)
Wednesday August 19, 2015 - 03:56:00 PM

A Berkeley Ecology Center employee who had been detained by immigration authorities has been released because the agency has not been able to obtain travel documents from the Chinese government, officials said today. -more-

Updated: Berkeley Library Book Cuts Spark Petition

Rob Wrenn
Friday August 21, 2015 - 03:59:00 PM

UPDATE: Save the BPL Books has started a petition directed at the Board of Library Trustees and the City Council entitled Librarygate: Stop Senseless Destruction of Berkeley Public Library & the Director's Cover-up. The petition asks for an immediate independent investigation and asks that the Library Director be suspended or fired. As of 8:45 a.m., 477 people had signed. The petition can be found here: -more-

Berkeley Police to Watch Alcohol Use

Daniel Montes (BCN)
Friday August 21, 2015 - 03:52:00 PM

With classes beginning next week at the University of California at Berkeley, police are reminding students to be safe and responsible when drinking alcohol. -more-



Aging in Place in Berkeley, But Not Quietly

Becky O'Malley
Friday August 21, 2015 - 01:34:00 PM

The anonymous illiterati who have nothing better to do than populate the comments section of the newsblogs which accept them have finally found an argument in favor of what they want that is hard to argue with because it makes so little sense.

They’re gleefully identifying those Berkeleyans who favor scrutiny of police actions, who oppose criminalization of homelessness, or who want building projects to be in scale and green, not just fabulously profitable to developers, as being old!

Greybeards. Grey ponytails. Birkenstock wearers. Some of them stout. OMG.

Yes, Virginia, even Santa Claus is an old fat guy with a grey beard. As the young folks are wont to say, get over it. -more-

Public Comment

New: Berkeley Police Must Respect the Right to Observe

Andrea Prichett
Sunday August 23, 2015 - 10:42:00 PM

The whole policy needs to be revised with the help of community input

A new Berkeley Police Department General Order (W-01) issued on July 21, 2015 marks a serious abridgement of the right to observe in Berkeley even though it looks much like a training bulletin that has been around for years. The previous training bulletin on “The Right To Watch­­ (Training Bulletin 91 issued in 1983 and reissued by Chief Meehan) required officers to put the “least possible restriction on citizen observation of police officer conduct.” In the new general order, the language is changed to say that officers should “minimize restrictions on public observation”, but it doesn’t say to what degree they should do this. This change has big implications for Copwatchers in the streets trying to record citizen-police interactions. -more-

When Smart Growth is Actually Dumb Growth, It's Time to Re-Program

James Shinn
Friday August 21, 2015 - 04:07:00 PM

Sometimes, so-called “Smart Growth” construction of residential, high-rise buildings is not smart at all. In fact, it actually can turn out to be “Dumb Growth”—and in some urban locales, such as much of the Bay Area, very dumb growth indeed. It is a complicated story:

The simple explanation for this comes out of an Economics 101 course—it is a phenomenon called “inelasticity of demand as it relates to price”. In an extremely land-scarce, highly desirable(climatologically and topographically) urban locale such as San Francisco, or even Berkeley, all we do when we build skyscrapers is, in effect, to provide more surface area for habitation in a given square yard of land.

Normally, in land-abundant, modestly desirable urban locales, this increase of supply, in the face of a constant LEVEL of demand for the commodity, will result in declining ability of the sellers of the commodity(in this case real estate) to maintain prior price levels, all other factors being equal. This means general purchasing power affordability levels for all real estate goes up. But what happens, in land-scarce, highly desirable locations, is that the very construction of these high-rise structures in itself creates a new, even more intense “vibe” that makes more and more people intensely want to live there.

Then demand becomes what is called, in economic terms, “inelastic”—it doesn’t go down as prices for the growing commodity stay the same or go up, because buyers are "price-inelastic" in response. They are prepared to pay just about whatever is demanded, just to become one of the chosen few who can say they live in these rarified locales. And, it is not as if the renting or purchasing of this new “land” in these buildings reduces in any way the number of inhabitants living elsewhere in the area. It just means more inhabitants per square mile, more congestion, more gridlock, in part because most of the lower level “worker bees” in these urban locales can no longer afford to live there and are condemned to longer and longer commutes—mostly in cars because of the paucity of effective and sufficient public transport. -more-

Confronting Our Fragile Economy

Harry Brill
Friday August 21, 2015 - 04:09:00 PM

How would the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor statistics (BLS) report the following? Simple arithmetic would tell us that If employers convert, say, 1000 jobs into half time positions, the outcome would double the number of jobs even though not even a single hour of work has been added. Yet the BLS in its employment and unemployment reports would interpret this change without explanation as a 100% improvement. Although the new, part time jobs very likely will offer fewer benefits or no benefits at all, anyone reading just the reported numbers, which is only the number of new jobs created, would conclude understandably that things are getting much better. -more-

Iran’s Nuclear Deal

Jagjit Singh
Friday August 21, 2015 - 04:07:00 PM

It is gratifying that the longest-serving Jewish member of the House, Sander M. Levin, supports the agreement because it is “the best way to achieve the goal of preventing Iran from advancing toward a nuclear weapon, so making the Middle East and Israel far more secure.” Five Jewish senators have come out in favor. Hardliners in Israel and Iran have much in common. They would prefer never ending tensions and conflict rather than a diplomatic resolution. In a perfect world the US and Britain should be apologizing and paying reparations to Iran for orchestrating the overthrow of a democratically government in Iran. In a declassified document, the CIA acknowledges its role in the 1953 coup which led to the blatant theft of Iran’s oil and decades of terror by the US puppet dictator, the Shah of Iran, which culminated with the Iranian revolution in 1979. -more-

Donald Trump, Developer Etc.

Jagjit Singh
Friday August 21, 2015 - 04:11:00 PM

According to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, David Cay Johnston, there are some extremely troubling aspects of Trump’s business activities that are relatively unknown. For example, his most famous building – Trump Tower – was built by A&S Construction whose owners are the infamous “Fat Tony" Salerno, the head of the Genovese crime family in New York, and Paul Castellano, the head of the Gambino family. He employed illegal Polish workers to tear down Bonwit Teller building to make way for Trump Tower. Trump’s personal helicopter pilot, Joseph Weichselbaum, was a convicted major cocaine and marijuana trafficker. He has often been sued by his contractors for breach of contract. -more-


Bernie vs. Donald: Rebel vs. Insurgent

Bob Burnett
Friday August 21, 2015 - 03:47:00 PM

One of the most fascinating aspects of the 2016 presidential campaign is the rise of two outsider candidates: Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders and Republican billionaire Donald Trump. They’re eliciting support because Americans are fed up with typical Washington politicians. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: The Facts of Aging

Jack Bragen
Friday August 21, 2015 - 03:43:00 PM

Persons with mental illness often do not live very long. I have known several who died in their forties or early fifties through natural causes, while others have died, even younger, through suicide. -more-

Arts & Events

Merola Opera’s 2015 Grand Finale

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Wednesday August 26, 2015 - 02:18:00 PM

The War Memorial Opera House was host on Saturday, August 22, to the 2015 Grand Finale of the Merola Opera Program, this country’s foremost training program for aspiring singers, coaches/accompanists, and stage directors. Conductor Antony Walker led the orchestra, and Mo Zhou from China was the director responsible for staging the mixed program of arias, duets, and ensembles from various Italian, French, German, Russian, and American operas. -more-

AROUND & ABOUT THEATER: "Free" 'King Lear' at Hinkel Park

Ken Bullock
Friday August 21, 2015 - 03:33:00 PM

Once again, Actor's Ensemble and Inferno Theatre are collaborating on free outdoor theater at the amphitheater at Hinkel Park--the old Berkeley Shakespeare venue--for the final weekends of summer and Labor Day. Last year's stripped-down version of Kleist's 'Penthesilea' was fascinating--and this year, Inferno's founder and artistic director, Giulio Perrone, who adapted and directed 'Penthesilea,' about the tragic love of Achilles and the Queen of the Amazons on the killing fields before Troy, has come up with a condensed recounting of 'King Lear,' rich in movement theater and design, with an intriguing cast, many familiar to East Bay theatergoers. -more-

New Esterházy Quartet Plays Beethoven’s Late Quartets at Berkeley’s Hillside Club

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday August 28, 2015 - 04:23:00 PM

Locally based, The New Esterházy Quartet offered on Wednesday, August 26, at Berkeley’s Hillside Club the first of three concerts dedicated to Beethoven’s Late String Quartets. This series of concerts presents a wonderful opportunity for Bay Area listeners to hear an internationally acclaimed string quartet perform the monumental late quartets of Beethoven’s mature musical genius. Moreover, Berkeley’s Hillside Club, now nearly 100 years old in its present form, having been rebuilt in 1924 after the disastrous fire of 1923, is a small, 100-seat concert hall with excellent acoustics, and it offers the best possible venue for listening to chamber music. I cannot insist strongly enough on this point. Chamber music should not be played in cavernous auditoriums such as Zellerbach Hall, where I happened to hear the Takács Quartet play Beethoven’s Quartet in B-flat, Op. 130 last December. That experience was less than satisfying. (See my review of Dec. 14, 2014 in these pages.) -more-