The Week



Protect Aquatic Park at Wednesday ZAB Meeting

Charlene Woodcock
Tuesday November 07, 2017 - 02:13:00 PM

I hope everyone who cares about this small gem of a park will defend it with your letters and presence at the ZAB meeting this Wednesday. A huge development has been proposed for the site adjacent to the park on the east side. Aquatic Park provides habitat for many birds and a very pleasant respite from urban life with a walk along the lake and an inviting, imagination-inspiring children’s playground, in spite of the nearby freeway. In the past few years several new five-story apartment buildings have been built along University Avenue just a block from the park, adding several hundred new occupants. This alone should be cause to protect and enhance the park, rather than threatening it with a proposal to greatly increase the built density of the adjacent site to the east. From 55,000 square feet to up to 475,000 gross square feet of R&D and office space (in a Mixed-Use Light Industrial zone) and paved parking from 130 spaces to 830. More than 70 carbon absorbing trees would be lost, some of them mature at 30 to 40 feet tall, since the development covers virtually all available space. Obviously, such a large, dense development would totally change the character of the park that runs alongside it, now a tranquil, wooded space enjoyed by families, hikers, rowers, and birders that saves a bit of Berkeley’s natural setting and provides an important bird habitat. It also, importantly, provides resiliency in the face of climate change and sea rise that is what we need in the open areas close to the Bay such as that targeted by the proposed development. -more-

Berkeley Chamber Opera, Live at Berkeley's Hillside Club

Tuesday November 07, 2017 - 02:15:00 PM

There’s probably no place in the United States except New York City that offers more live opera performances of all kinds than the Bay Area. The commendable broadcast presentations of the Metropolitan Opera in movie theaters have increased public awareness of opera, and now fans who are ready for the next step in the opera experience have ample opportunity to see this art form up close and personal, in small houses for reasonable prices.

The list of local companies is long and getting longer: Island City, West Bay, Verismo, West Edge and Bay Shore Lyric are just a few.

Now Berkeley Chamber Opera, a relative newcomer (third season) on the scene, is gearing up for its second production this year, following its very successful production of Menotti’s The Consul in August.

Verdi’s Luisa Miller will be performed in Berkeley’s intimate Hillside Club on Sunday afternoon, November 12, and Saturday night, November 18. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Mostly Symbolic Declaration of Opioid Crisis a National Public Health Emergency

Ralph E. Stone
Tuesday November 07, 2017 - 02:29:00 PM

On October 26, 2017, President Donald Trump declared that the opioid crisis is a national health emergency. Better late than never, considering that about 64,000 died from drug overdoses in 2016. In San Francisco, deaths from opioids were from 100 to 120 per year from 2006 to 2014. -more-

Let’s Move to Alamo

Toni Mester
Tuesday November 07, 2017 - 02:22:00 PM

Kevin Burke thinks that people who live in Berkeley should be required to buy sunlight, and presumably other amenities like quiet, privacy, and views. There’s some validity to his modest proposal because such valuable features sell real estate. But I have a better idea. Let’s move to Alamo, where he lives, and enjoy those luxuries together. More than 60 homes are now for sale in this lovely unincorporated community in Contra Costa County, the lowest going for $1 million, about the same as a new backyard condo in West Berkeley, and the highest, 7 Country Oak Lane, a 21 acre estate selling for only $39 million. I could go for that; give me land, lots of land under starry skies above. -more-

Flash: The Poor Tour Hits the Road Again

Carol Denney
Friday November 03, 2017 - 04:00:00 PM

On Friday afternoon, November 3rd, a storm was brewing in Berkeley. Winds chased dry leaves into corners, grey clouds gathered, and people on the street tacked any tarps they had down over their belongings anticipating rain.

Some of the group gathered near the HERE/THERE sculpture at Adeline Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard were packing up in anticipation of an eviction the next morning from BART property ordered by federal court. Others had already packed out, setting up on median strips or elsewhere throughout the city. There are estimated to be about a dozen small tent cities throughout town, but this one, a loose aggregation of people called "First They Came for the Homeless", gathers together not just for safety, but to openly challenge laws criminalizing poverty and homelessness.

"About this time last year we were doing the 'poor tour', evicted from site after site," stated Adam Bredenberg, one of the plaintiffs in the case opposing BART's eviction, who found me a place to sit while we talked. "We never went into the shadows because our survival depends on our visibility."

"We stuck together, and we're still sticking together," said Bredenberg, a dignified young man who has been with First They Came for the Homeless for years longer than the ten months' stay on BART property. "We're having to bounce around again."

"This is a semi-permanent solution," he said, watching the orderly, cooperative efforts to prepare for both eviction and hard weather after ten months of relative peace in one spot. "It would be nice to get six months or a year." -more-


Public Comment

A Judge Allows an Eviction, but Sends a Signal

Carol Denney
Friday November 03, 2017 - 06:55:00 PM

The headlines said "Homeless Camp Evicted", or "BART Can Kick Out Homeless." But the federal judge handling the case also sent a signal to the City of Berkeley and anyone watching that business as usual might be over. -more-

An Open Letter to Mayor Arreguin and the Berkeley City Council

Moni T. Law, J.D.
Friday November 03, 2017 - 07:09:00 PM

It is with a heavy heart that I write this reflection. I attended last night’s City Council meeting with the hope that this important issue would finally receive the attention it urgently deserves. These matters were not new or before the council for the first time. Many of these issues were at the end of the council’s agenda at least three occasions last year, with time running out- just as it did again last night.

Over 20 residents remained patiently from 6pm- 11 pm last night. It is very unfortunate that the council imploded, argued, sparred, and disintegrated while the urgent issue of community policing, implicit bias training to eliminate racial profiling, and accountability for use of excessive force hung in the balance - and died on the vine. -more-

Repeal Costa-Hawkins

Harry Brill
Thursday November 02, 2017 - 03:18:00 PM

Steve Martinot's Planet article makes several good suggestions for providing affordable housing to Berkeley residents. Among his excellent proposals is substantially increasing fees for developers. If they refuse to pay, their property should be transferred to non-profit organizations that are committed to expanding affordable housing. -more-

Trumpty Dumpty

Jagjit Singh
Friday November 03, 2017 - 07:03:00 PM

Sheriff Mueller and his posse of law men are closing in for the kill. Paul Manafort and Trump are cut from the same cloth – followers of the 11th commandment – look after thyself. Given the choice of spending years in prison or “ratting” on his Republicans, he will undoubtedly choose the later. If Manafort sings, this will likely trigger a cascade of events bringing us closer to the “big fish”. -more-

Cruz Silenced

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday November 03, 2017 - 07:33:00 PM

The feisty, no nonsense mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, was silenced, denied an opportunity to testify before the House. She had been extremely critical of the lackadaisical Trump administration’s response to the devastation caused by hurricane Maria. It seems likely that the White House leaned on compliant lawmakers to prevent Cruz from voicing more criticism of FEMA and the White House. -more-

Berkeley Abuses Homeless Elders

Marcia Poole
Friday November 03, 2017 - 07:13:00 PM

The City of Berkeley knowingly engages in elder abuse and abuse to dependent adults by allowing many homeless to live (and die) on the streets, sidewalks, in doorways and parks of Berkeley. They provide few facilities for the elderly and dependent adult homeless to sleep, keep clean , use bathroom facilities, feel safe, have peace of mind, or have ready and adequate nutrition. Many of these elderly and dependent adults citizens feel abandoned, isolated, threatened and hopeless. -more-

# Want to Preserve your Backyard Sunlight? Buy an Easement

Kevin Burke, Alamo
Friday November 03, 2017 - 07:00:00 PM

Toni Mester's recent oped ("Backyard Dwellings") laments new construction which threatens sunlight in backyards in Berkeley's R1 district. She uses this argument to object to new construction in R1. "The homeowners in the R-1A have very little security that they will be able to maintain their backyard sun, peace, and privacy," she writes. -more-

November Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Friday November 03, 2017 - 02:57:00 PM

Editor's Note: The latest issue of the Pepper Spray Times is now available.

You can view it absolutely free of charge by clicking here . You can print it out to give to your friends.

Grace Underpressure has been producing it for many years now, even before the Berkeley Daily Planet started distributing it, most of the time without being paid, and now we'd like you to show your appreciation by using the button below to send her money.

This is a Very Good Deal. Go for it! -more-


SQUEAKY WHEEL: American NIMBY Warriors

Toni Mester
Friday November 03, 2017 - 02:56:00 PM
to be demolished and replaced: 2129 Ninth Street

The revision of the R-1A zoning may finally come to a vote at the Planning Commission at the third and hopefully last public hearing Wednesday November 15 at the North Berkeley Senior Center. A discussion on a related topic, accessory dwelling units, is also scheduled for that meeting. The agenda should be available on-line at the Planning Commission webpage on Friday the 10th. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Giving Yourself Permission to be Happy

Jack Bragen
Friday November 03, 2017 - 07:05:00 PM

Some of the things I see on television (yes, I commit the awful sin of watching TV sometimes) are completely uninteresting--that is, unless, for the viewer, it is good enough to see the zooms of barely covered or partly blurred out body parts, usually female. (In writing, it would be known as "gratuitous sex.") On the other hand, men who are successful in acting, unless they are good actors, have a standard male physique brought about, no doubt, by Hollywood trainers and probable cosmetic surgery. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE:Trump’s Tax Cut Challenge

Bob Burnett
Friday November 03, 2017 - 06:51:00 PM

After 9 plus months in office, Donald Trump has accomplished little. He's very unpopular and has failed to fulfill his major campaign promises, Major Republican donors are withdrawing funding. In response, Trump has embarked on a desperate campaign to cut taxes. Even though Republicans control Congress, tax reform faces an uphill battle. -more-

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Brexit & A Brave New World

Conn Hallinan
Tuesday October 31, 2017 - 03:14:00 PM

As the clock ticks down on Britain’s exit from the European Union, one could not go far wrong casting British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn as the hopeful Miranda in Shakespeare’s Tempest: ”How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world that has such people in’t.” And Conservative Party Prime Minister Theresa May as Lady Macbeth: “Out damned spot, out, I say!”

With the French sharpening their knives, the Tories in disarray, the Irish demanding answers, and a scant 17 months to go before Brexit kicks in, the whole matter is making for some pretty good theater. The difficulty is distinguishing between tragedy and farce. -more-

Arts & Events

THEATER REVIEW:Inferno Theatre's 'Dracula,' running through November 18

Ken Bullock
Friday November 03, 2017 - 06:58:00 PM

Violin and accordion (Carol Braves and Lana Palmer) process into the playing space under the dome atop Brooklyn Preserve near Lake Merritt, introducing the new version of 'Dracula,' adapted and staged by Giulio Perrone, the founder of Berkeley's Inferno Theatre, a trick-or-treat of ensemble theater, bringing the atmospherics and the strange interrelations of Bram Stoker's vampire masterpiece alive--or at least undead--to audiences this autumnal season ... -more-

L’État de siège by Albert Camus in Berkeley

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday November 03, 2017 - 07:20:00 PM

Written in 1948 during Franco’s Fascist regime in Spain, Albert Camus’s L’État de siège (State of Siege) may have gained a new relevancy in Trump’s America. Brought to our shores by Théàtre de la Ville-Paris, State of Siege was performed October 21-2 under the auspices of Cal Performances at Zellerbach Hall. Director Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota calls State of Siege “a grand allegory,” one that may help us face “the horrific perils such as we are now experiencing.” Though this play has clear albeit oblique references to both Fascist Spain and Nazi Germany, Camus’s State of Siege has eerie resonance in today’s world of Trump’s megalomania. Though nominally set in Cadiz, Spain, State of Siege offers a Kafkaesque view of totalitarian government everywhere it rears its ugly head. In some ways, this play reminded me of George Orwell’s 1984, for here too the meanings of words are turned on their heads. When a vote is scheduled in this play, one totalitarian functionary explains to another that the electorate is free. If they vote for the existing totalitarian government, he says, it proves they are free. If they vote against the oppressive regime, he says, it proves they are misled by sentimentality and are therefore not free. Such is the logic of dictators. I can imagine Trump saying this. -more-

A Stunning Chopin Recital by Pianist Daniil Trifonov

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday November 03, 2017 - 07:23:00 PM

On Monday evening, October 30, Davies Hall was nearly filled to capacity with audiences who came to hear the much-heralded 26 year-old Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov in a recital of works by Frédéric Chopin and various composers who were influenced by Chopin. Though this was not Trifonov’s first appearance in Davies Hall, (he performed with the San Francisco Symphony in 2014 as a Shenson Young Artist); Trifonov’s reputation has grown considerably in the ensuing three years, largely based on appearances at Carnegie Hall and in Los Angeles with Gustavo Dudamel and Los Angeles Philharmonic. In the January 9, 2017 issue of The New Yorker, music critic Alex Ross devoted an article to Daniil Trifonov in which Ross stated that, “What sets Trifonov apart is a pair of attributes that are seldom found in one pianist: monstrous technique and lustrous tone.” Ross also quoted no less an authority than Argentine pianist Marta Argerich as saying of Trifonov, “What he does with his hands is technically incredible. It’s also his touch -- he has tenderness and also the demonic element. I never heard anything like that.” -more-