This shows the scale model of  what YIMBYs would like to build in North Berkeley.  Yes, that's a 31 story building.
This shows the scale model of what YIMBYs would like to build in North Berkeley. Yes, that's a 31 story building.



Conn Hallinan
Wednesday February 14, 2018 - 11:21:00 AM

Italian elections are always complex affairs, but the upcoming Mar. 4 vote is one of the most bewildering in several decades: the right is resurgent, the left embattled, and the issue drawing the greatest fire and fury has little to do with the economic malaise that has gripped the country since the great economic crash of 2008. -more-

Yes, In Your Backyard!
YIMBYs Plan for Berkeley

Tuesday February 20, 2018 - 09:17:00 PM

Tweet of the Day, from East Bay for Everyone (formerly East Bay Forward, aka Yes in Your Back Yard):

"Come celebrate our second birthday at Spats tonight and you can see this amazing scale model of North Berkely [sic] Bart!" -more-

New: Snowflakes
In My Back Yard:
San Francisco Planning Department's Take on SB 827

Bob Silvestri
Monday February 19, 2018 - 06:49:00 PM

EDITOR'S NOTE: This piece, reprinted from the Marin Post, has a much longer introduction than the usual Planet article, but keep at it, because it's well worth the time it will take to read, and is very entertaining as well. Just click on "more" to see the whole story in one place. -more-

Page One

Press Release: Undercover Operation Nets Six Laptop Thieves

From the Berkeley Police Department
Monday February 19, 2018 - 10:22:00 AM

In response to an ongoing series of laptop thefts and robberies which have spiked in recent months, the Berkeley Police Department Patrol Division has begun placing undercover officers in a number of cafes citywide. Those efforts paid dividends on Saturday evening at approximately 7:54pm, when officers observed 4 subjects get out of a car and walk into the café. Seconds later, two of the men stole two laptops and the foursome ran back to the waiting getaway car. One of the victims chased after the suspects and attempted to recover his laptop. The suspect vehicle fled and the undercover officers directed a large number of officers into the area to affect the arrest. -more-

Public Comment

New: Ban the AR-15 Now

Jagjit Singh
Monday February 19, 2018 - 06:48:00 PM

Following the mass shooting in Parkland Florida, “Health Affairs” ranked the United States the most dangerous wealthy nation in the world for children. Shooting deaths are 49 times higher than other rich countries. The teenagers slaughtered in Florida had the gross misfortune of growing up in a society that cares more about gun owners rights than their safety.The pro-life Republicans are fond of declaring the sanctity of the unborn child but withdraw such concerns once they are born. -more-

New: Reducing Mass Shootings in Our Schools

Mike Weimer
Sunday February 18, 2018 - 10:27:00 PM

In the wake of the Florida school shooting, conservative media (writers and TV journalists) has offered 3 major proposals to reduce such incidents: 1) concentrate on mental health, 2) if you see something suspicious report it, 3) arm and train school personnel in addition to present security personnel. All three are problematic. -more-

Open Letter to Mayor Arreguin Regarding Community Benefits and Development Concessions

Charlene M. Woodcock
Friday February 16, 2018 - 06:17:00 PM

Dear Mayor Arreguín,

It was very disturbing to hear you say almost offhandedly, as we were leaving the Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Downtown Community Benefits meeting last Thursday, that paragraph F, Alteration of Community Benefits Package, should be dropped from the Resolution.

The majority of Berkeley voters elected you and other council members who ran as progressives because we wanted the city to reverse course from the extremely pro-developer policies of Mayor Bates and the previous council majority and focus on serving the city’s needs. But here is an instance where we’re not seeing the more careful consideration of the implications of policy that we voted for.

At the heart of our concerns was Bates and his council majority's seemingly unthinking approval of huge disruption downtown, damage to existing businesses and public services like the High School, the YMCA, the Library, and the Post Office, especially during the construction process, and ever more market rate housing instead of the low and moderate income housing we need. The community benefits proposal approved for 2211 Harold Way was an insult to the city of Berkeley. For developer Joseph Penner, no doubt advised by former Planning Department employee Mark Rhoades, to propose eight replacement theaters as a significant community benefit after the demolition of our beautiful, comfortable, successful existing theaters was like a black joke. -more-

Repeated Horror

Bruce Joffe
Sunday February 18, 2018 - 03:20:00 PM

I am so sick-and-tired of the same horror being repeated again and again and, tragically, once again. Hundreds of mass shootings, killing thousands of children, women, and men, and still, Republicans in Congress refuse to enact strong gun control. They say it would not be effective, that it would be unconstitutional. It would endanger their funding from the National Rifle Association. -more-

The Taliban Asks the American People to End this Deadly War

Gar Smith
Friday February 16, 2018 - 06:22:00 PM

In an unprecedented 17,000-word letter released on February 14, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (a.k.a., the Taliban) has appealed directly to the American people and "peace-loving Congressmen [sic] to put pressure on your authorities and demand an end to the occupation of Afghanistan."

"[I]t is not the duty of America to draft laws and suggest systems for other countries," the letter states—especially when doing so entails the deaths of "3,546 American and foreign soldiers" and the killing of "tens of thousands of helpless Afghans, including women and children."

In 2001, George W. Bush claimed the U.S. invaded Afghanistan to accomplish three goals: (1) to establish a legitimate government, (2) to eradicate the narcotics trade, and, (3) to eliminate the Taliban resistance.

In its letter, the Taliban notes how this plan worked out.

• Today, the U.S.-backed government in Kabul in known largely for its greed and incompetence—widely acknowledged as one of the world's most corrupt regimes and a leading violator of human rights.

• The opium poppy trade—eradicated under Taliban rule—has exploded since the arrival of Western forces, expanding from 185 hectors to 328,000 hectors. In December 2017, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crimes reported that drug production in Western-controlled regions of the country had increased 87 percent in that year alone.

• After 16 years of fighting, the Pentagon has failed to "secure" the country. In September 2016, Donald Trump's generals carried out 751 deadly air strikes in the county but gained "not even a single inch of land." According to the UN, 60 percent of the country remains firmly under Taliban control.

Declaring that "Having a sovereign country free from any foreign occupation is our natural and human right," the letter argues that "[e]stablishing an Islamic system conforming to the creed of our people can never be called terrorism by any law of the world."

Unlike Washington, the Taliban writes, "[W]e have no agenda of playing any destructive role in any other country and we have practically proven over the past 17 years that we have not interfered in any other country." -more-


Dance with the One
That Brought You

Becky O'Malley
Saturday February 10, 2018 - 04:26:00 PM

So, it’s been a bit over a year since the more-progressive-than-thou majority assumed their seats on the Berkeley City Council. District 4 Councilmember Jesse Arreguin became mayor, and shortly thereafter Kate Harrison was elected to fill the last months of his council term. This might be a good time to remind all of these well-meaning folks about how they got where they are today, just in case they’re tempted to attribute their electoral victories exclusively to their personal charms.

First and foremost, what brought together a remarkable coalition of unlikely bedfellows to form their electoral majority was general distaste for the way the previous majority, headed by former mayor Tom Bates, had sold out Berkeley to rapacious for-profit developers.

Several “it’s time for a change” groups coalesced around the 2016 Berkeley election: -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE: Forecasting the Midterm Elections in the West

Bob Burnett
Friday February 16, 2018 - 06:09:00 PM

The 2018 midterm elections will occur on November 6th. Democrats have been predicting a "blue wave," but recently there's been an uptick of support for President Trump and, as a result, Democrats are nervous. Nonetheless, the eleven western states look positive for Dems. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: North and South Korean Olympic Games mini-detente

Ralph E. Stone
Friday February 16, 2018 - 06:14:00 PM

Vice President Mike Pence represented the U.S. at the Olympic opening ceremonies in PyeongChang, South Korea. Athletes from North Korea and South Korea marching under the same flag in the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games was a significant symbolic moment for many. The North Korean delegation was led by Kim Yo Jong, the trusted younger sister of North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: The Shortened Lifespan of Mentally Ill People

Jack Bragen
Friday February 16, 2018 - 06:34:00 PM

According to numerous sources, schizophrenia reduces life expectancy by about twenty years. Heavy smoking reduces life expectancy by about ten years. Put those two together, and it adds up to parents much of the time outliving their mentally ill offspring. And I have seen this happen as I've lived among persons with mental illness. I could name a dozen or more mentally ill acquaintances, and some friends, who met this fate. -more-

Arts & Events

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar: February 18-25

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Sunday February 18, 2018 - 02:29:00 PM

Feb 21 Deadline to register for the Feb 28 EPA hearing to repeal the clean power plan, There are three hearings on Feb 28 morning, afternoon and early evening. -more-

Nicola Benedetti’s Valentine’s Day Concert

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Saturday February 17, 2018 - 06:43:00 PM

Performing with London’s Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment on Valentine’s Day at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre, Scottish-born violinist Nicola Benedetti gave a thrilling rendition of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61. Presented under the auspices of Cal Performances, this concert also included Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 in B-flat Major, Op. 60. These two works were written by the composer about the same time in 1806 that he was working on preliminary sketches for his Fifth Symphony. Interestingly, both the Fourth Symphony and the Violin Concerto offer unusual opportunities for the timpani. -more-

Herbert Blomstedt: A Ninety Year-Old Wunderkind

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Sunday February 18, 2018 - 02:53:00 PM

This weekend, February 15-17, Conductor Laureate of the San Francisco Symphony Herbert Blomstedt wound up a two-week visit during which he conducted two great works by Beethoven, a great symphony by Mozart, and a rarely heard symphony by Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammar. Now age ninety, Herbert Blomstedt never ceases to amaze us. Eons ago, Blomstedt led the San Francisco Symphony from 1985 to 1995, and during his decade-long tenure here he raised the orchestra’s standing and led the Symphony on prestigious international tours. Known for his modesty and good-natured humility, Blonstedt had a way of getting what he wanted from an orchestra while never hectoring them as some conductors do, but also, and more surprisingly, by making his orchestra members respect , revere and even love him. -more-