Full Text

SB 827 could up-zone this area around the North Berkeley BART station.
Victoria Fierce (@tdfischer)
SB 827 could up-zone this area around the North Berkeley BART station.


Updated: Who Backs Building on North Berkeley BART Parking Lot?
What Do They Want?
Thursday Meeting Could Yield Answers

Zelda Bronstein
Sunday March 11, 2018 - 09:44:00 PM
SB 827 could up-zone this area around the North Berkeley BART station.
Victoria Fierce (@tdfischer)
SB 827 could up-zone this area around the North Berkeley BART station.

UPDATE: The BART staff presentation for Thursday's meeting is now online

On the evening of Thursday, March 15, Mayor Jesse Arreguín, District 1 Councilmember Linda Maio, and District 3 BART Board Director Rebecca Saltzman will host a community meeting at the Berkeley Adult School to discuss the possibility of building housing on the North Berkeley BART station. Many neighbors of the site now view that possibility with intense mistrust, thanks to confusing statements from Arreguín, YIMBY hype and harassment, and Saltzman’s failure to brief her constituents about BART’s intentions and her YIMBY sympathies. 


For most people the first public notice of the meeting was a February 10 tweet from the mayor: 

“Stay tuned for a town hall meeting with BART on development of the North Berkeley BART parking lot. I am commited to starting the process of building housing there.” 

This was a surprise; Arreguín had never voiced support for housing at the station. 

Which side is he on? 

In a confusing February 20 op-ed posted on his personal website, the mayor also seemed to endorse upzoning areas around BART stations for eight-story buildings. The op-ed’s ostensible aim was to clarify Arreguín’s position on State Senator Scott Wiener’s controversial SB 827, the massive giveaway to the real estate industry that’s co-sponsored by Berkeley State Senator Nancy Skinner. 

Under SB 827, housing projects within a half-mile of a major transit stop (e.g. a BART station) or a quarter-mile of a “high-quality” transit corridor (defined as “fixed route” bus service no less than every fifteen minutes during peak commute hour) would be exempted from local controls on: 




  • density (number of units)
  • minimum parking spaces
  • maximum heights
  • and zoning that limits additions onto existing structures that comply with the bill’s own maximum height limitations of 55 of 85 feet, depending on the width of the street.
In Wiener’s telling: “Developers can choose to build shorter, but cities can’t force them to build shorter…” In fact, as the San Francisco Planning Department has observed, when the state’s Density Bonus kicks in, under certain conditions, buildings could go as high as 110 feet. 



A month earlier, Berkeleyside.com reporter Janis Mara had quoted Arreguín as calling SB 827 “a declaration of war against our neighborhoods.” In contrast to that much-cited, unequivocal denunciation, the position he took in the op-ed was muddled. Under the headline “New Housing Bill Well-Intentioned, Yet Ultimately Wrong Approach to Development,” the mayor criticized the bill for 



  • handing ordinate power to transit agencies
  • unintentionally fueling opposition to future transit investment
  • fostering traffic congestion and “parking impacts”
  • ruining neighborhood character
  • being “fundamentally unfair,” insofar as its cookie-cutter approach ignores cities that, like Berkeley, have encouraged new housing
  • failing to protect students, working families, and communities of color from displacement.
But Arreguin also wrote: 





“If approved as written, [SB 827] would radically alter how Berkeley and many other California cities look by allowing much denser housing in many neighborhoods. This means apartment buildings as tall as eight stories not only near BART stations and bus depots—which I wholeheartedly support—but also in many of our residential neighborhoods, if they happen to be located within just a ¼ mile of a “high quality transit corridor” [emphasis added].”
On February 28, Arreguin told me that the bolded passage “does not report my position,” and that his office would make a correction, and it has: “which I wholeheartedly support” has been removed from the text. 



“I do support density,” Arreguín said, but up-zoning needs to be done on “a case by case basis.” In any case, he could not support the bill in its current form. 

On March 4, Arreguín sent me the formal statement on SB 827 that his office had provided to New York Times reporter Conor Dougherty. The document echoes the fence-straddling of his op-ed’s headline. Arreguín is “pleased” that Wiener has amended the bill’s first draft to address “potential impacts of displacement” that the bill would create, but he “looks forward to speaking” with the senator about adding “still stronger affordability and anti- displacement protections”—for example, repeal of the Costa Hawkins Act. Nowhere does he express outright opposition. 

YIMBY provocation 

What really got the emails flying were the inflammatory dispatches from the local YIMBY cell, East Bay for Everyone (EBFE). 

On January 4, the day after Wiener introduced SB 827, EBFE Co-executive Victoria Fierce posted a map on the #UpzoneNorthBerkeleyBart website illustrating the area around the station whose upzoning would be mandated by the bill. 

Then, well before any official announcement about the date of the meeting about housing had appeared, the build-baby-build group posted a misleading call to action on its website

“Save the Date: #UpzoneNorthBerkeleyBART, March 15 

by tdfischer| Feb 14, 2018 | Events | 

Councilmember Maio and Mayor Arreguin of Berkeley are officially organizing a meeting for March 15 to discuss increasing housing density in the area around North Berkeley BART. East Bay for Everyone has been agitating over this issue since our earliest days, and now it is becoming a reality! This is really important!’” 

"tdfischer" is Victoria Fierce's Twitter name. Her other job is co-directing the YIMBYs’ legal arm, the California Renters Legal Advocacy and Educational Fund (CARLA). Its motto is “Sue the Suburbs,” a precept CaRLA has been putting into action with increasing success. 

Shortly after her February 14 post, Fierce tweeted: “This is when it counts. Its almost unheard of to have more than 2 weeks advance notice for this, and we have nearly a month.” How the YIMBYs got a heads-up is a mystery. 

On February 17, Libby Lee-Egan, another member of EBFE, issued a tweet at #UpzoneNorthBerkeley announcing the group’s meeting at the Westbrae Biergarten to organize for the March 15 community meeting: “Who’s going to this today?? Let’s upzone the shit out of North Berkeley!” Echoing Lee-Egan, Fierce tweeted: 

"Share this far and wide. Retweet the shit out of it. Tell your family, your cats, your kids, your cats’ kids. This is an ALL HANDS ON DECK situation and we want as may voices in the room to speak out on housing abundancy an desegregation." 

The EBFE calendar shows that another meeting about upzoning North Berkeley took place on February19 at the group’s Oakland office. 

An announcement posted on the EBFE website states that the March 15 meeting will be about upzoning North Berkeley, and that the YIMBYs plan to squelch the neighbors and take over the event: 

"It is absolutely critical that we get out ahead of the curve on this and take control of the narrative. 

"The neighbors there will be mostly concerned about parking and increased heights. We need to take those concepts and render them harmless through a more compelling message of housing abundancy, transit accessibility, and access to opportunity." 

On February 20 EBFE invited people to celebrate the group’s second birthday at Spats that evening and see “this amazing scale model of North Berkly [sic] BART!” The model showed 570 units at the site packed into four buildings of varying heights—the tallest rose 31 stories to 300 feet—and, bizarrely, given the YIMBYs’ newfound enthusiasm for transit-oriented development (TOD), an eight-story, 500-space parking garage. 

On February 23, Nico Wright posted his objections on the EBFE website: 

Hey: I’m a big fan of density, live pretty close, and am a trained architect, landscape designer, and urbanist. You are doing yourselves no favors putting this out there. Not a good plan for the site. Could achieve as many units with a better lower and more even plan. 

Five days later, EBFE’s Greg Magofña replied: 

Hi Nico. This is NOT a proposal. It was just a fun thing to play with at the bday party. 

Wright: “I get it but few others do.” 


Maio tells the YIMBYs to cool it 

Fierce, who lives in Oakland, Fierce, who lives in Oakland, somehow got access to a private Berkeley NextDoor online community group and was posting their private messages on Twitter, maligning neighbors of the North Berkeley BART station. A neighbor complained to Maio. On March 2 the councilmember, whose district includes the station, told me that she was “disheartened” by this news, that she’d written to EBFE asking them “to look into it,” and that they’d said they would. 

On February 26 Lee-Egan posted this apology on NextDoor: 

“Victoria Fierce, a co-executive and organizer for EBFE, has made some divisive, alienating, and frankly rude comments about North Berkeley neighbors, citing screenshots of the “rezoning” thread. The tweets did not reveal anyone's names or addresses. However, Victoria did make a member of the community feel unsafe and targeted, which is not in the spirit of EBFE’s anti-doxing policy found in our code of conduct. East Bay for Everyone does not support Victoria's actions and she is on a leave of absence. You will not see her at the March 15 meeting or any other regarding building at North Berkeley BART. Furthermore, we do not support doxing of private information and anyone in our organization doing so will be disciplined. We are also working on strengthening our code of conduct and creating a culture where leaders hold themselves to a higher standard than members. We’re a young organization and we’re trying to be better.” 

(Note: To dox is to search for and publish private or identifying information about particular individuals, typically with malicious intent.) 

Fierce’s disciplinary leave of absence was apparently brief. At the BART Board’s March 8 meeting, where she urged the agency’s directors to endorse SB 827, Fierce described herself as “the co-executive of East Bay for Everyone,” as well as a board member of YIMBY Action and a member of California YIMBY. “In total,” she stated, “I represent nearly three thousand Californians in the Bay Area alone.” 

Maio has also posted on NextDoor, making clear that, contrary to EBFE, the March 15 meeting has nothing to do with the zoning around the station, only about “what the site lends itself to for housing. 

Maio also described to me her earlier efforts to foster inclusive planning for housing at the North Berkeley station. “I felt very responsible that neighbors be involved in notification and process,” she said. Three months ago, she and an aide spent a couple of hours going door-to-door to every house within a block of station either talking to residents or leaving flyers for those who weren’t home with advance information about the upcoming meeting. At that point the date was unknown. She invited people to contact her or to sign up to be placed on an email list or to contact her. 

“A lot signed up,” she said. 

I suggested that it would be a good idea to provide information about BART’s presentation before the meeting. She agreed, noting that that was up to BART. 

Where’s the info, BART? 

On February 28, I emailed BART Communications Department Manager Alicia Trost. I asked if BART has a specific plan or vision for housing at the North Berkeley site. 

Noting that BART classifies the North Berkeley station as “Urban with Parking,” I also asked what BART’s policy is on replacing or not replacing parking at stations in this category when housing is built on their parking lots. 

Because (as of this writing, just five days before the March 15 meeting) BART has yet to issue an announcement about the event, much less to distribute information about its policies for housing at the North Berkeley station, I’m going to print Trost’s enlightening reply in full: 

BART’s vision for housing at the station: 



“BART’s TOD Policy also states that BART will only 'Solicit proposals for transit-oriented development in localities that have an adopted plan allowing for transit-supportive land uses.' The main BART Property at North Berkeley is currently zoned ‘Unclassified.’ Therefore BART has no specific plan or vision, and would work in close collaboration with the city on any new plan or vision for the property. "BART’s vision for its overall TOD Program is articulated in its TOD Policy. We aim to reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions by focusing residents and workers close to BART and connecting transit where they are less likely to drive, and in particular help alleviate the region’s housing crisis by building 20,000 homes on BART property, 35% of which (7,000) are expected to be affordable. BART would expect a minimum of 20% of new housing units built on BART property to be affordable, with a higher percentage preferred if financially feasible. Any development at North Berkeley station would be expected to support this larger vision. [emphasis added]"  



BART’s parking replacement policy at the North Berkeley station: 





"BART’s Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Policy states that BART will “strive for no to limited parking replacement” at stations classified as Urban with Parking in the Station Access typology map. Stations have been assigned this classification based on how BART riders get to the station today as well as the local context and in many cases consideration of local planning and feedback from cities. BART stations with a high share of riders who walk, bike, or take connecting transit to BART were more likely to be classified as 'Urban with Parking.' "No exact amount of replacement parking has been established for North Berkeley or any other station without an approved development. There is no “one size fits all” on the question of replacement parking. BART requires all developers to fund an extensive station access study during the development process, and works with developers to ensure that the design of the project takes the station access needs of BART riders into consideration. Development on BART-owned property must result in a net increase in BART riders."  



Trost added that 25% of BART patrons starting their day at BART use the parking lot, and that there are 385 people on the waitlist to reserve a parking space at North Berkeley BART. 



Rebecca Saltzman, YIMBY enthusiast and SB 827 supporter 

Rebecca Saltzman lives in Oakland. She was first elected to represent BART District 3 in 2012 and re-elected in 2016. Stretching from El Cerrito in the north to San Lorenzo in the south and Lafayette in the east, her BART district covers parts of many East Bay cities. In 2016 I encountered her and an Oakland lawyer well-known for representing developers as they were distributing leaflets on my North Berkeley block for Stephen Murphy, Sophie Hahn’s pro-developer rival for the District 5 council seat. 

On March 8 Saltzman joined four other BART directors to support SB 827 if unspecified amendments to provide affordable housing, protect tenants, and mandate prevailing wages were added, making the agency the first public entity to endorse the bill. The vote was 5-4. 

Her vote was no surprise. On January 4, Saltzman tweeted her support for the bill, thanking Wiener for 

a bold proposal that would increase and accelerate housing production on BART property and around stations. BART is committed to dense TOD but does not control zoning; this bill would help us meet our ambitious goals. 

Indeed, Saltzman is a YIMBY enthusiast. On November 28, 2017, she urged people who “want to see enough housing built for everyone in the East Bay” to “please join me in donating to @eb4everyone today,” retweeting the organization’s pitch: “Help us meet our #Giving Tuesday goal of $3,000 today and your dollars get an instant upzoning with a matching donation!” 

When we spoke on March 9, I asked: “You’re a member of East Bay for Everyone, aren’t you?” 

Saltzman said that she’d contributed to the group but didn’t know if that made her a member. She added, “I wasn’t involved in any of the thing they’ve put forward” about the North Berkeley BART station or the March 15 meeting. 

“The point of the meeting,” she said, “is to get input” from the community. “No development proposal is on the table.” 

Beyond information contained in BART’s TOD Guidelines, the only new considerations will involve the location of the tunnel under the station and where development would be essentially prohibited at the site. 

Saltzman said she understands that “people are scared,” and that she will “try to allay their fears.” The officials who convened the meeting “are coming with an open mind.” 

When I asked whether BART planned to publish information about its policies for housing at its stations in general and at the North Berkeley station in particular, she said that Maio was coordinating outreach. BART would be placing flyers in racks at the station “early next week.” 

That’s late in the day, especially given the clamor of the past month. And since the racks are inside the station, only people riding BART will have access to the flyers. Moreover, if other BART riders are like me, they rarely look at anything in the racks. If BART really wanted to inform the public at large, it would have posted a big sign about the meeting outside the station a few weeks before the meeting. It could still do that. 

On Saturday I emailed Saltzman asking if the flyers would be posted outside the station proper. I’ve yet to get a reply. Meanwhile, neighbors are leafleting the nearby area with announcements about the meeting. 

Here’s Maio’s official announcement: 



"The March 15 meeting about the suitability of the main North Berkeley BART parking lot as a site for housing. Venue: Berkeley Adult School Multi-Purpose Room. Enter from Curtis/Francisco. BART will present the site’s suitability, given the presence of the tunnel, and will discuss transit-oriented development, followed by questions and discussions. Contact: lmaio@cityofberkeley.info"
And for those who’d like to ask Nancy Skinner why she’s co-sponoring SB 827, at the March 22 meeting of the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, Skinner will be speaking on “what’s happening in Sacramento and SB 827,” with discussants Berkeley Councilmember Kate Harrison and Dellums Institute Principal Margaretta Lin. 6:45 pm, Humanists Hall, 390 27th Street, Oakland 




New: Mr. Wiener’s Whimsical World: The “Madman” Theory of Zoning

Bob Silvestri
Wednesday March 14, 2018 - 04:19:00 PM

As a disclaimer, I’m not categorically against any type of development, be it prefabricated, modular homeless housing or 100 story luxury apartments. If a city wants to build the tallest building in the world, that’s fine if it’s their decision to do that. What I am against is top-down planning by government and big money, forcing inappropriate development on defenseless communities, by commandeering local planning and zoning control and dictating to locally elected officials and taxpayers. I’m also not an “urbanist” or any other “ist” for that matter. I love great urban places as much as I love quiet small towns. Each has its unique and compelling characteristics, and I think we should work to preserve both. If I need a label, I guess I’m a quasi-Wrightian when it comes to planning and growth. As anyone who has read my first book or my work over the years knows, I believe that growth and planning requires complex solutions, incorporating a mix of low-density and high-density, enabled by technology so both have a much lighter footprint on the planet than either do at the moment.

What I know for sure is that a one-size-fits-all approach to zoning will not get us there. 

When dealing with development issues in different places, from urban cores to rural towns, nothing is comparable: not available locations, land types, the social services and public services available or the needs of the populace or the programs that exist to address them, or the types of businesses and industries that are viable, or the municipal government’s financial wherewithal and the capacity of their agencies. 

In the face of increasingly complex planning and growth challenges and increasingly unpredictable unintended consequences, Senator Wiener has chosen to ignore all this and charge forward with a blunt instrument belief that removing local zoning control will solve everything. His proposals have no proven track record of success: success being defined as financially, socially and environmentally viable in a market based, democratic society. 

I’m not claiming that our system is not flawed: in many ways it’s a total mess. Still, like it or not, for better and for worse California is not Europe or Asia or even New York City, so we have to work with what we have. And, on balance, I would argue that what we have in place can work well, even though new ideas and modifications are needed. 

But, Senator Wiener doesn’t live in that world, which is why the visions embodied in his Senate Bill 827 are fatally flawed. 

Fatal Flaw #1: Local Planning is not just about control 

A city’s General Plan and its zoning ordinances are not about “control” for its own sake, they are fundamentally about the financial solvency of the city. Over centuries, municipalities have sought to address and express their social, environmental and financial needs and goals through planning: adding provisions to encourage different types of commerce to provide jobs, services and tax base, or to improve infrastructure or bring in new residents (aka consumers), endlessly seeking a balance, though that is always unattainable. 

The detailed decisions that go into creating a city’s General Plan attempt to address the fact that financially viable private development (housing, commercial, industrial, etc.), requires a supportive context of public investment and reliable planning execution. 

Every municipality I’ve ever worked with has indicated that housing is at best a financial break even for cities: the costs of infrastructure and public services outweigh the revenues generated (and this is in California: the highest taxed populace in the country). Commercial properties, on the other hand, are generally a more reliable revenue source. 

For example, a single 100 room boutique hotel in Marin can generate over $1 million a year in tax revenues. Conversely, allowing too much housing without sufficient commerce, retail, industry, local jobs and services results in reduced city revenues and public services, which lowers property values and so on, in a downward spiral that bankrupted more than one city in the last boom and bust housing cycle. 

In the San Francisco Bay Area, allowing the addition of uncontrolled amounts of housing throughout our nine counties, without sufficient, local jobs creation and commercial development, also leads to longer commutes and more traffic. 

Local planning can address these kinds of imbalances better than central planning agencies in Sacramento. 

Planning and zoning work best, when applied surgically and with specific intentions. Conditional use zoning is an example of that. It offers the possibility of a certain profitable use for a developer, if the community receives some tangible benefit in return. 

In addition, real estate developers and investors need a sense of certainty and depend on the fact that the goals and doctrines found in the General Plans, Specific Plans, Community Plans, Master Plans, Special Assessment Districts of public agencies will come to pass. However, that consistency and follow-through on long term, public agency planning is critical not just for private investors, but also for every family that buys a home and every entrepreneur who opens a small business and to the community at large that makes decisions based on those plans. 

Municipal planning documents take years and thousands of man/woman hours to come into fruition and they embody layers of detailed decisions about every aspect of what makes a city a city, and those decisions are eventually encoded in local zoning ordinances. To cavalierly disregard the results of this process is madness. 

Mr. Wiener fails to or perhaps doesn’t care to understand any of this and wishes he could do away with all of it. He seems confident that he’s the smartest guy in the room. 

Fatal Flaw #2: If you build it near transit, will they come? 

When one considers public transportation, it would be naïve to believe that just having a ferry terminal or a train station somewhere will result in financially viable, privately funded development. Want to buy a mall? I know where you can get one cheap, near good public transportation. As noted, planning, zoning and outcomes are more complex. 

Similarly, to enforce strict definitions of what is or is not “transit rich” as the basis of legislation for the entire state, regardless of whether it’s an urban core or a rural neighborhood and devoid of context, available public-private investment, location, topography, construction type, design, unit sizes, amenities available or infrastructure required (all of which are the purpose of local planning) is completely nonsensical. 

Mr. Wiener’s legislation treats a suburban bus stop the same as an urban ferry terminal. At the same time, his legislation doesn’t even bother to address our more urgent need, which is for better public transportation. It only assumes transportation’s value, mathematically. This, however, is not how real planning works. 

Good planning involves taking everything into consideration – job growth, tax base, schools capacity, commercial demand, housing needs and types, infrastructure and public transportation options – and using that to create viable, long term, General Plans in coordination with public investment. 

That Wiener fails to acknowledge the relationship between sustainable growth, development and local planning would be bad enough. Worse still, he proposes to predicate zoning decisions on transit frequency.  

Fatal Flaw #3: Zoning based on bus route frequency 

As I’ve argued, the existence of transit by itself is not a rational basis to drive zoning and development decisions. Transit alone will accomplish little, out of context, and development that is only driven by that transit has less chance of thriving. But, tying zoning and development directly to bus frequency is even more irrational. 

Demand for bus service is dependent upon everything else that is outside of the control of that transit system. That is why, without predictable long term planning and the investment of public and private funds that go with it, Wiener’s version of “transit oriented development” near bus stops will not only fail, but will create zoning chaos. 

First off, there is a huge difference between fixed transit (trains, highways, ferry terminals, airports, etc.) versus surface street transit (buses, shuttles, taxis, etc.). One is essentially permanent and a long term investment, while the other requires little investment and can change at any moment. 

When it comes to zoning, fixed transit is far more certain than surface street transit, which is why major real estate development analysis tends to discount surface street transit (except for automobile and truck access), when evaluating opportunities. Still, it’s important to acknowledge that even trains and ferries change scheduling, depending on demand and ridership, so tying their frequency to zoning is still problematic. 

There is no doubt that buses and shuttles are an important form of public transportation. However, bus routes are constantly changing based on ridership, so what happens when bus frequency suddenly rises above or falls below SB 827’s frequency criteria? 

Will cities then be required to immediately up-zone or down-zone large swaths of land as bus intervals rise and fall? And, how will a city or a developer deal with zoning that is in constant flux and essentially unpredictable? 

What if a street is “transit rich” one year but not the next, and in the interim a developer has broken ground on a housing project? Does that neighborhood then end up with high density housing but no public transit, because the municipal agency decided to reduce the bus frequency or worse, move the bus route somewhere else, entirely? 

For all intents and purposes, Wiener’s legislation hands zoning control over to the Director of the MTA in San Francisco, or the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway & Transportation District bus service. 

Now add this to the mix. Surface street transportation is presently in the midst of its most disruptive time since the invention of the automobile. And, on demand shuttles, flexible route, app-guided, more efficient, cheaper, just-in-time services, and even autonomous technology-enabled options are about to transform the sector even more. 

In New York City, for example, the emergence of Uber and Lyft have made the once prized taxi medallion, which ten years ago was worth $100,000, practically worthless. In the coming decades, it’s possible that there may no longer be any fixed municipal bus routes at all. Unless public transportation is transformed, it may not be able to compete. 

What will the residents of Wiener’s high density housing projects that were built based on bus frequency, do then, when public transit systems cut back service to remain financially solvent? 

Will any of this happen with certainty? No one knows, but the trends we’re seeing would suggest caution and strengthening coordination with local decision making, not weakening it. 

Fatal Flaw #4: High density development without parking 

There certainly are arguments for development at varying densities at major fixed transit locations. The question though, in our fully developed communities, is where do we find the land for that development? Unfortunately, according to Wiener, it will be at the expense of parking. 

Believing something is so, because you say it so many times that you convince others that it’s so, only works for con men and politicians, though I guess that’s redundant. The rest of us have to live with the consequences. 

Driving and having parking when we get where we’re going, is essential for shopping, doctor’s appointments, school drop-offs, errands, and so much more. If we can't park at our destination, it's likely we'll go somewhere else. So, it is equally essential to all the merchants and service providers we are visiting, because without somewhere to park our cars we couldn’t get to them to buy their goods and services. 

We no longer live in a world where getting to everything we and our families need is walkable. In fact, since the succession of disruptions caused by big box retail and online sales and resultant concentration of commercial, medical and retail development, almost nothing is walkable anymore. It’s only in an urban core with a lot of public transportation (e.g., New York City) that one can get to most things without a car. And, even in many of those place, in spite of increases in investment in public transportation (Los Angeles, Portland), ridership of public transportation is dropping as people are choosing to use other transportation services that save time and allow them to make multiple stops and carry heavier items, and according to some, because transit investment itself displaces those who use it most. 

All this considered, parking remains the life blood of local businesses and particularly parking no more than a couple blocks from a store. This is is even more the case for small, mom and pop businesses and all local service providers, who do not have big advertising budgets. 

When the Miller Avenue Streetscape in Mill Valley was redeveloped, many small, local-serving businesses barely hung on, because people just wouldn’t put up with anything that makes them walk too far or takes too much time, even though new temporary parking was arranged several blocks away. They simply went elsewhere. 

This logical tendency of people to optimize their time and convenience means that commercial development (offices, restaurants, retail shops and service businesses) cannot survive without parking. 

Wiener’s legislation rejects this reality, entirely. 

But, ask yourself this. How can SB 827 supporters suggest that agencies such as BART, eliminate their parking lots in order to build housing near transit? What happens to all the people who used to drive to the BART station to go to San Francisco or elsewhere? They’ll be left with no alternative but to drive to San Francisco and try to park there. 

And, let’s please start being realistic: people over forty, who are in their prime working and earning years, will not generally ride their bikes 15 miles back and forth to work every day, particularly if their day consists of multiple meetings out of the office. It's just nonsense. 

Similarly, if the development that replaces a parking lot is mixed-use, where will customers patronizing the retail stores park? Only small convenience outlets can survive if frequented only by BART passengers. 

Fatal Flaw #5: Is pollution from cars the impact we have to plan for in the future? 

Government and politicians move so glacially that they always tend to be fighting the last war. The current environmental issues surrounding the transit oriented development debate are like that. 

The TOD argument of last resort is that getting people out of cars is our top priority, because of the environmental impacts. Historically, that was true (this policy came out of the 1970's when air pollution choked every major U.S. city), but alternative fuel, automotive technology is being adopted rapidly, as is the legislation to mandate it. In fact, a number of countries around the world have already set dates by when the internal combustion engine will be outlawed, and California may soon follow suit. 

As I've argued over the past ten years "personal transportation vehicles" -- be they cars, trucks, motorcycles or new hybrid forms -- are here to stay. They are analogous with freedom and choice can adapt to every conceivable need (business meetings to vacations). And, with advancements in technology and new legislation, housing, automobiles and greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly decoupling. 

Looking out into the future, which is what we're supposed to be planning for, the entire "TOD lowers GHG auto emissions argument falls apart. But, there are also financial consequences to consider. 

Large-scale development requires enormous amounts of capital, both public and private. We should always ask if that investment is the best way to achieve our goals. Even if one were to agree that we should get all older, polluting vehicles off the road right now, to reduce emissions (something I advocate), is high density development the quickest and least expensive way to do that? 

In 2010, some of us did a quick financial analysis of a 30 unit, high density housing project that was proposed in Mill Valley. That analysis showed that buying zero emissions, hybrid electric cars for all the future residents of that project would cost the taxpayers only about 25% of the value of the public development concessions needed to approve the apartments. 

I'm not suggesting that this means we shouldn't build any housing, but it shows that there are more immediate and direct ways to address greenhouse gas emissions. How about just offering a 50% of cost trade in credit voucher to anyone who will replace their low mileage, high emissions vehicle with a new alternative fuel hybrid? We could transform the public fleet within years not decades. 

Fatal Flaw #6: Displacement is not just about residents and housing 

I’ve often said that all things being equal there can be no affordable housing without subsidy. In Wiener’s version of this, his legislation’s massive property rights give-away is that subsidy, which in his telling of it will magically result in for profit developers building so much housing that it will eventually become more affordable. 

Aside from the fact that there is no evidence that increasing development and giving away development rights will decrease housing costs -- in fact, quite the opposite, because added development rights increase property values -- the falsehoods in this argument are too many to tackle here. So, I’ll confine my comments to those concerning the impacts on communities that will become designated as “transit rich,” under SB 827 (for a detailed discussion about realistic ways to create affordable housing click here). 

In short, if Wiener’s vision is allowed to be realized, the majority of the San Francisco Bay Area’s long-standing communities will be decimated. 

Gentrification and displacement in communities resulting from new, high density development tied to transit frequency, is not just about the plight of the poor and other disadvantaged populations -- though they are hit the hardest by it. Displacement within impacted communities will be equally destructive to local-serving businesses. 

“Communities” are ecosystems comprised of a wide variety of participants engaged in intricately inter-dependent activities. In addition to residents, local-serving businesses include tire stores, auto repair shops, hardware stores, stationary stores, hair and nail salons, florists, tattoo parlors, yoga studios, mom and pop restaurants, light manufacturing, service providers like plumbers, cabinet makers, electricians, artisans and artists, writers, accountants, lawyers, architects, contractors, local nonprofits, and personal and medical care providers of every imaginable kind. 

Most of these are small businesses. Many of them only remain viable, because their rents in older buildings are still reasonable. 

To suddenly up-zone and transform property values to attract high density, mostly luxury housing and large-scaled commercial development, and to believe that rents will not rise and that existing communities will remain intact is just fanciful. With legislation like SB 827 we are looking at wholesale displacement of communities and their unique cultures. 

Shiny new buildings and rising rents in close proximity, will inevitably drive out and replace struggling, local enterprises with coffee bars, trendy restaurants, boutiques, wine shops and art galleries. 

And, in all this, we haven’t even talked about the impacts on the environment from this uncontrolled development, using the same bricks and sticks construction methods we’ve used for 60 years. It is amazing to me that Wiener and his fellow legislators are so willing to throw environmental protection under the bus to benefit multi-billion dollar (soon to be trillion dollar) corporations. 

There was a time California was the leader in this. Now our politicians just carry water for major donors who will benefit from uncontrolled development. 

In any case, if you identify with any of the local services, professions or businesses I’ve listed above, and you live within the ½ mile or ¼ mile of a “transit rich” area, as prescribed by SB 827, I suggest you either start fighting back or start packing. 



Bob Silvestri is the founder and President of Community Venture Partners, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that facilitates and assists community-based projects, programs and initiatives that demonstrate the highest principles of economic, social and environmental sustainability. CVP is committed to the need for a transparent, “bottom up” public process that incorporates under-served community voices into government decision making. 


CVP is the parent company of the Marin Post, where this article originally appeared. 



New: The Crime Wave They Don't Mention

Carol Denney
Wednesday March 14, 2018 - 04:07:00 PM
Carol Denney

It's a crime wave. Businesses all over town violating the law, operating in broad daylight without the proper city permits. Tables, chairs, potted plants, sandwich signboards, rolling racks and sturdy tables full of merchandise on the public right of way, all without legal permits. 

Perhaps it doesn't sound all that serious. But consider that in the meantime, a majority of the Berkeley City Council is poised to criminalize people who have more than three square feet of belongings with them on the sidewalk on the grounds of an urgent need to clear the way for pedestrians while ignoring the more obvious sidewalk violations by businesses blocking hundreds of square feet of public walkways daily. The vote on the three square foot law, the kinder, gentler version of the two square foot law of the previous council, could come to the present iteration of the council in the next few weeks unless less discriminatory perspectives prevail. 

Berkeley's willingness to publicly demonstrate its tilted attitude toward those getting the brunt of a housing crisis it created in the first place hardly needs another pointed portrait, but the permit-free furniture splayed across the public sidewalk illustrates it well with a back story only those steeped in the mysteries of zoning and public works can unravel. 

It's pretty simple: prior to 2011, the Zoning Department issued use permits for sidewalk seating which gave private property owners entitlements for the public right of way, an authority it did not have. This means anybody who even thinks they have a permit is mistaken, although they operate in a nebulous grey zone until the Zoning Officer technically terminates the previous permit illegally issued by Land Use Planning and the applicant reapplies to the Public Works Department for the appropriate legal permit from the correct agency. None of this, by the way, applies to Ashby Avenue or San Pablo Avenue, which are state highways and "cannot be issued Sidewalk Seating permits" since Caltrans, the governing entity, will not issue them. 

This can't be news to the City of Berkeley, but doesn't seem to have percolated down to code enforcement officers or the police officers otherwise obsessed with permit-free sidewalk blocking by people the Berkeley City Council majority thinks have way too much stuff - for poor people. 

The urgency cited by the Mayor's office in promoting the three square foot legislation to free Berkeley sidewalks of the tyranny of homeless people's belongings does not seem to extend to the chairs, tables, potted plants, sandwich signboards and merchandise decorating business frontage, despite its larger role in sidewalk obstruction. Watch closely as the circle is squared for businesses wishing to capitalize on their proximity to public sidewalks, while people in the throes of poverty are ticketed and scorned for taking up public space. 

New: Narrowing Adeline at Ashby BART: Community Meetings to Consider Alternatives

Michael Katz
Wednesday March 14, 2018 - 03:31:00 PM

Mayor Jesse Arreguín and the City's Planning Department have announced a series of "community open houses" this week, regarding three alternatives for reconfiguring (narrowing) Adeline Street from Ashby BART to the Oakland border. 

This schedule lists several daytime drop-in hours, some evening hours, and a few specific themed sessions. All are at the Ed Roberts Campus adjoining Ashby BART. The don't-miss session should be "Redesigning the Right-of-Way," on Saturday March 17 from 12–1:30 pm, including “Q&A...lead [sic] by the Planning Team". You can RSVP at the link above, or at (510) 981-7409

Apparently in the works for three years, all three alternatives would remove mixed-use traffic lanes from Adeline, to add bike lanes and green space at the sides or center. The drawings look pretty, but if you've been anywhere near the chaos caused by the far-smaller "downtown BART plaza improvement project" over the last 18 months, multiply that chaotic experience to imagine the years of construction disruption, congestion, noise, and pedestrian and cycling hazards/inconveniences involved in making sausage on anything like this scale. 

At the link above, be sure to scroll down to "Option (C) Key Route." This Option includes its own remarkable "Option to close Adeline between MLK and Ashby for flea market and special events on weekends." If you were anywhere around South Berkeley during last year's Juneteenth weekend, you've already experienced the congestion, cut-through traffic, and general mess propagated by completely blocking Adeline, ever. 

To conserve your time at any of these sessions, first visit this page, where you'll find links to the actual proposed street changes, plus associated promotional pitches from the sponsoring City department.

New: Cut or commit time for the Berkeley Way project

Thomas Lord
Wednesday March 14, 2018 - 04:09:00 PM


Berkeley has serious needs for shelter space, supportive housing, and available housing that is affordable even to persons with very low incomes.

The BRIDGE/BFHP effort to develop the Berkeley Way parking lot has failed to produce a viable project.

City Council has been asked to commit large sums of existing funds and to try to borrow more funds in pursuit of the Berkeley Way Project. In exchange, Council is told the project might, if nothing more goes wrong, be funded and permitted by the end of 2019.

That is a bad deal. City Council should instead suspend the project and move quickly to find more viable alternatives. 

Highlights of the project's problems

The parking problem is not solved. 

The City can not afford the loss of revenue from the public parking lot. 

The sole possibly viable option identified by City Staff includes 200 spaces in a single, below-grade level, using "puzzle lifts". 

While 200 spaces are potentially fiscally viable, Council should ask how well thought out this plan is. 

  1. Puzzle lifts are typically slow and will limit the speed of turn-over in the lot. The parking study mentioned in the staff report mentions the total amount of use the lot gets, but does not contemplate the rate of ingress and egress.
  2. The rate of ingress is important to the Berkeley Fire Department. If ingress is too slow, and more than a few cars line up waiting for a space, the waiting cars will spill out onto Berkeley Way. As BFD has noted, that would interfere with emergency vehicle traffic leaving and returning to the fire station.
  3. When the City of Palo Alto considered using a puzzle lift system (April 11, 2017, special meeting of the City Council), their City Staff reported that the systems were slow, required training, and were not typically used in public parking garages for these reasons.
It would be a shame to commit large sums of money, only to later learn that (once again) a crisis of what to do about parking returns. 

Berkeley's actual costs are $15M more than is acknowledged

When computing Berkeley's share of the project cost, staff reports regularly omit the $15M of Alameda County Measure A1 funds which are dedicated to Berkeley. That is Berkeley's money and it should be regarded as such. 

Taking A1 funds, HTF funds, and $25M in proposed borrowing (total bonding cost of $40M), Berkeley will be paying more than half the total cost of the project! 

It is simply false that Berkeley's money is being well-leveraged by this project. Berkeley's contributions will not even be matched dollar for dollar! 

The project history is a long tale of missed milestones

Over the years Council has given money and other concessions to this project, each time establishing milestones for the project to complete. Examples include a public outreach plan, a parking study, complete financing plan, and shovel-ready plans. 

The staff report mentions that the project has used over $800,000 to date. In fact, there was an additional $200,000 pre-development loan early on. 

The project has spent more than $1M, in other words, without meeting a single one of the goals set for it. 

The proposed borrowing is a slap in the face to renters and taxpayers

The proposal to borrow $25M, if the bonding is for 20 years, means making $2M annual payments, of which $750,000 per year is nothing but debt service. 

This is absurd. In addition to de-leveraging Berkeley funds, those borrowing costs effectively make the project into a for-profit windfall on the backs of our most economically vulnerable residents. 

The project costs are high relative even to today's market

By way of comparison, the 2014 pro forma for the Stonefire building describes a project that: 

  1. bought land (Berkeley Way does not need to do this)
  2. built underground parking
  3. built 90 units and ground floor retail
That project cost less than half of what is proposed for the Berkeley Way project a mere four years later. Yes, the Berkeley Way project would include more units - but not twice as many more and, again, the land is free. 

The project uncertainty is too high

Even if Berkeley commits more than $50M to this project, still, the City is offered the weak promise that the project might be fully entitled and financed by the end of 2019. Might

Given the past failures of this project to ever settle on a viable plan, it is very reasonable to assume that before this project is built, the developer would once again return to Council asking for more money. 

Promising alternatives are around the corner

Berkeley could instead use County A1 money and HTF money for projects such as: 

  1. Building stand-alone shelter space quickly.
  2. Developing some or all of the North Berkeley parking lot as social housing, coops, and so forth.
  3. Acquiring existing housing units through a Small Sites program.
I'm sure it is politically difficult to consider suspending the Berkeley Way project but political popularity is no excuse for fiscal waste. 

Don't throw good money after bad. 

Suspend this project.

New: The Solution is to License Access to Guns

Bruce Joffe
Tuesday March 13, 2018 - 12:43:00 PM

Assault weapons and large bullet magazines were illegal in this country for ten years (1994-2004). During that time murders with those weapons declined. 

Studies show that trained police officers do the wrong thing in an emotional gun situation 55% of the time. Yet, extreme idiotlogs think the solution to school shootings is to give everyone a concealed gun! What percentage of lightly-trained teachers might accidentally shoot a student? Probably more than 55%, since armed protection is not their primary job. What if a student overpowers the teacher and takes her/his gun? Suppose the teacher has locked the gun for safekeeping, then how would he/she get hold of it in time to prevent an armed intruder from killing? Gun fanatics ignore these questions. 

The solution is to limit access to guns, to require frequent background checks and test-based licensing, and to require a valid gun license to purchase bullets. 

Our safety and the safety of our school children will not change overnight. It will improve gradually over a decade or more. Criminals will probably continue to have guns for quite a while also. But the shooters who killed school children throughout our country were not criminals, they were unhappy loners who snapped and had way-too-easy access to high efficiency murder machines.

Press Release: Berkeley Councilmember Linda Maio Announces… “After 25 years I will not run for Re-Election”

From Lars Skjerping
Monday March 12, 2018 - 12:59:00 PM

Citing a strong career of service of more than 25 years on the Berkeley City Council, Linda Maio has decided to step down and not run for office again in November. 

“It has been a tremendous privilege to represent Berkeley’s District 1 and the entire City for over 25 years. My career on the Council has placed me in the forefront of all of Berkeley’s exciting endeavors. I value the relationships I have across a broad spectrum of our wonderful, active, caring community. We are proud of our schools, libraries and parks supported so faithfully by the Berkeley community. Berkeley is dedicated to realizing our environmental priorities, to maintaining a diverse city both racially and economically, to affordable housing, and to combating homelessness… to name a few. 

“I remain grateful for the mentorship I received from Loni Hancock, Nancy Skinner, and Tom Bates. Pastor Marvis Peoples of Liberty Hill Baptist Church has been at my side especially as we fought for our soda tax. Calvin Fong was my faithful aide for many years, often through hard times. Commissioners I appointed represented Berkeley with great dedication and yeomen’s work.  

"While not being able to list all of my work that I was able to accomplish, always with others, here are a few highlights… 

Markedly improved air quality in West Berkeley  

Raised Berkeley’s voice for Community Choice Energy 

Created the first Watershed Management Plan for the City 

Passed our Streets and Watershed Measure M 

Pressed and cajoled for years to finally fund reconfiguring the I-80 Gilman Interchange 

Passed the first Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax in the nation, overwhelmingly 

Stopped hazardous and explosive crude oil shipments from coming through Berkeley 

"Rest assured, for the next 9 months I will continue to be on duty to focus on the health and well-being of our community. In closing, I cannot adequately express my heartfelt appreciation for all of the support and trust I received these many years. It has been a tremendous privilege." 


Sacred: A Beautiful Human Portrait of World Religions—and Their Limits

Gar Smith
Friday March 09, 2018 - 02:43:00 PM

Opens March 9 at the Rialto Cinemas Elmwood in Berkeley

As a documentary film, Thomas Lennon's Sacred stands apart—a rare collaborative visual anthology created by more than 40 filmmaking crews working independently in 25 different countries around the world. Credit for the concept and the editing goes to Lennon, an Academy Award-winning director/producer.

Described by its distributor, Argot Pictures, as "a multi-million dollar global documentary . . . two years in the making," Sacred offers a visually rich 97-minute tour-de-faith—a snapshot-scrapbook of religious practices around the world and the impact they have on the lives of people from birth to death.  


The three sections of the film loosely address the themes of religious initiation, personal practice, and the closure of aging and mortality. 

According to the press kit, Sacred shows "how people turn to ritual and prayer to navigate the milestones and crises of private life." But to this former-Boy-Scout-troop-chaplain-turned-agnostic, the reliance on church and temple, looks more like religion used as a crutch—a time-tested potion against powerlessness, poverty and suffering. 

In Pakistan, a Muslim boy proclaims: "Whatever we want in the world, we must pray for it." Submission is a given. Prayer becomes the most exalted form of begging. 

"We pray five times a day," says another practitioner. "My life is up to God. It's fate." 

In disease-ravaged Sierra Leone, the catastrophic spread of the Ebola virus is seen as "God's judgment." 

Some Memorable Encounters 

Sacred is filled with close-up, intense, personal moments and colorful, sweeping episodes of public ceremony—religious parades, pilgrimages, mortifications and, in the Philippines, a scene of a true-believer suffering an actual real-life crucifixion. 

In Peru, there is a spectacular parade of masked revelers that looks like a commedia dell'arte troupe dropped acid. 

In Ethiopia, a wiry older man armed with a wooden cane, struggles barefoot across miles of rocky terrain to visit a holy shrine—to gather a handful of dirt that can be carried home and set aside to be spread on his grave. "Forgive us," he prays as he crawls inside the shrine's dark doorway for a blessing. "Absolve us." 

One of Sacred's merriest episodes involves a burial ceremony in Madagascar. A corpse sewn inside a shroud is carried overhead by jubilant throngs. The body is deposited in a stone tomb with three large bottles of alcohol left to guard the door. But the bottles are quickly commandeered by the mourners and the party continues. 

From the opening scenes of Sacred, one message is clear: the first victims of religion are children. 

An infant is handed over to a pair of men who wield a cutting tool to circumcise the screaming boy. On the other side of the world, an uncomprehending child who can barely stand, is placed in a tub and "anointed" with chilling rivulets of water. The child's parents look on with smiles of approval—as the bewildered infant screams in shock. 

In Myanmar, a pre-teen boy is painted with make-up, fitted with lipstick, false eyelashes, and a golden costume. As he marches down a dirt road towards a monastery with other children, he looks forward to his initiation. "It will make me taller," he predicts. 

As his hair is shaved off his head, his mother worries: "He was always very playful around the house. I worry he will be playful in the monastery." (A playful child? Buddha, forbid!) 

While the film is spellbinding and wide-ranging, there's no way it could have offered a comprehensive collection of religious practices. While there is a scene of Native American's engaged in a Sunrise Ceremony, there are no scenes of funeral pyres along the Ganges, and no mention of the religious differences that fuel too many wars across the globe. There are only a few sights of the dead, of grieving or graves. 

There are many memorable faces, voices, and stories in Lennon's film, however. Some make their impact in a moment. Others span out over several minutes of close, personal introspection. 

In Israel, a woman speaks of "a superior being" and then observes slyly that: "She must be happy with my children." 

In Africa, a deeply traumatized woman named Abigail, openly rejects both Christianity and Islam. "After the death of my family," she says, "I have no religion." 

In Connecticut, a woman named Carolyn speaks through a breathing tube in her nose and observes: "Prayer matures. God wants conversation." 

In Kathmandu, a believer notes the beauty of existence. "When the Gods come down to Earth," he says, "they don't want to go back to heaven." 

Sacred may not provoke a religious awakening but it provides a memorable glimpse into the many shapes and sounds that define religious practice today. 

Note: The first three days of the film's Berkeley run will feature a trio of guest speakers, beginning on Friday with Spring Washam, author of A Fierce Heart, Rev. Ben Daniel (Montclair Presbyterian Church) on Saturday and Rev. Will McGarvey (Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County) on Sunday. All three speakers will be available for a Q&A session following the 7PM screenings.


Public Comment

Government & The Corporate Culture: Crime Does Pay

Harry Brill
Friday March 09, 2018 - 02:40:00 PM

It is no surprise to us when we learn about the unscrupulous and even criminal conduct of many of the big corporations. But what the public needs to become more aware of is the complicity of the federal government. General Motors (GM) installed a defective ignition switch in over 2 1/2 million cars, which caused, according to the official estimate, at least 124 deaths and many serious injuries. When the ignition switch failed it prevented the air bags, power steering, and power brakes from working. 

A federal investigation revealed that the company was aware that the switch was defective, and it attempted to hide the defect from regulators and consumers. Clearly, in the interest of protecting profits, the company engaged in a criminal act. 

However, the federal government's only punishment was imposing a large fine. From GM's perspective, that's the cost of doing business. No GM executive faced prosecution. Moreover, the corporation executives were not even required to admit guilt. That was a gift from the federal government because without a verdict of guilt GM was able to treat the fine as a tax deduction.  

Separately, GM made an out of court financial agreement to compensate the injured and the families of those who lost their lives. However, a federal judge ruled that the agreement, which would have required the corporation to pay $1 million in stock to car owners who sued the company, was not enforceable! 

Incidentally, those who purchase foreign cars because they believe that foreign based executives have more integrity are probably unaware that Toyota also paid a fine to settle a similar case involving defective cars. Among the automobiles that had to be recalled because of defects included autos manufactured by Chevrolet, Chrysler, Ford. and Honda. Also recalled were defected tires manufactured by Firestone and airbags manufactured by the Takata Corporation, which is based in Japan. Incredibly, some of the airbags when activated exploded, causing injury as well as death. None of the executives in any of these companies suffered criminal penalties. 

In contrast, the laws of the federal government can be quite harsh to those who occupy the lower rungs of the class ladder. Many African Americans, for example, are serving jail sentences between one to three years for only possessing marijuana. That's Incredible. There are not even any victims.  

Generally speaking, the executives of the major corporations correctly assume that they can violate the law with impunity even if their conduct threatens the health and safety of the public. It seems, then, that a major function of the federal government is to protect the guilty.

Saudi Arabia

Jagjit Singh
Friday March 09, 2018 - 02:31:00 PM

Desperate to enter the exclusive nuclear club and assert its declining role in the Middle East Saudi Arabia, the epicenter of world-wide terrorism, is planning to erect as many as 16 nuclear reactors. 

There are growing signs that the Saudis want the option of building nuclear weapons to hedge against their archrival, Iran. They claim that the reactors would be strictly used for peaceful purpose, only to generate energy for domestic purposes only. However, the reactors could easily be weaponized to generate nuclear bombs which would plunge the Middle East into further chaos. The Trump administration must insist the Saudis purchase enriched fuel at lower-cost than to produce it domestically. 

But contrary to his false claims to be a tough negotiator, Trump is prone to vacillate and be influenced by flattery and his vast business interests which include Saudi Arabia which was excluded in his predominantly Muslim countries ban. Furthermore, Trump is desperate to bolster his weak resume and is seeking a major distraction from the scandal infested White House and the Stormy Daniels fiasco. 

If he fails to cement a US contract with Westinghouse, the Saudis are likely to seek agreements with France, China, Russia or South Korea who don’t insist on nonproliferation safeguards.

Extending Daily Savings Time: The Advantages

Harry Brill
Friday March 09, 2018 - 03:30:00 PM

This Sunday begins Daylight Savings Time (DST). Make sure you reset your watches and clocks one hour ahead. It is probably a good idea if you do so on Saturday just before you go to sleep. 


Believe it or not, we once had DST all year round. That was during World war 11. The main motive was to save energy. That mandatory federal law expired shortly after the war ended. 


How about advocating DST all year round? It would certainly improve our quality of life. The following are among the advantages of DST: 


1. During DLS months, violent crimes decrease. 


2. According to one study, robberies drop by 7 percent. 


3. Energy savings range from 15 to 40 percent, which reduces the costs to consumers. 


4. According to the Sacramento Energy Commission, people are less likely to report negative health symptoms. 


5. A study published by the International Journal of Energy engineering showed that more exposure to daylight reduces hospital stays and increases patient comfort. 


6. During Daylight Savings Time, people are more likely to be active in healthy ways, such as walking more and being involved in sports. 


7. According to the California Energy Commission, students in classrooms perform up to 18 percent higher on standardized tests. 


8. People who are more regularly exposed to sunlight tend to be more optimistic, sleep better at night, and have a better sense of well-being 


However, executives of businesses that make up the indoor industries, including utility companies (such as PG&E) and television executives would not be sympathetic to extending DST. 


But for most of us, Enjoying DST all year round would be highly beneficial.


ON MENTAL ILLNESS: The Long Term Damage of Bullying in Schools

Jack Bragen
Friday March 09, 2018 - 02:38:00 PM

The bogus idea of arming teachers in high schools will add another layer of serious problems to the public schools, places that are already bad enough. 

Without using the above dumb idea, millions of students feel depressed in the public school systems, for many because they are the victims of bullying perpetrated by predatory classmates. 

The news media is shedding a bit more light on bullying because it appeared that the shooter in Florida might have wanted revenge for mistreatment. The Florida shooting was a heinous crime, and a history of being bullied doesn't at all justify the murders. 

However, many students, because they are bullied, carry severe emotional scars into adulthood. This can interfere with being successful and/or productive later in life. 

In high school, in the first half of my "sophomore" year, I had fabulous grades. My grades took a downturn at the point where the bullying toward me every day finally got to me. I was in a couple of altercations. In one instance, a bigger, more powerful student threw me down a flight of several stairs. In another instance, I intended to fight, because a particular student was making my life particularly miserable, and unworkable. 

And, in my gymnastics class, a particularly humiliating incident took place. 

And also, in my junior year, a carload of boys who were on the football team chased me (in their car, while I was in my car) across town. The situation could have easily caused a car wreck. 

To sum it up, there was a lot of bullying at Concord High, directed toward me and toward my older brother. When I had an opportunity to leave high school early, I did so, by taking a test. I tested out of school the summer before my junior year and got out the following January. 

After high school, I was crippled emotionally and was not aware of this fact. The history of negative incidents, verbal abuse, and even being physically threatened or attacked, did not go away--the effect on me was probably permanent. It was probably one of several factors that led to me later becoming mentally ill. 

In my scenario and probably that of the overwhelming majority of bullied students, thoughts of revenge did not enter the picture. I wanted to be done with high school, done with being bullied, and I wanted to move on with my life. 

When I was turning eighteen, I was trying to become someone else. I wanted to rewrite my self-image, and rewrite my social identity. However, the brain "defect" took hold, and I got ill with schizophrenia. 

Since then, I've been trying to have a successful life in spite of the emotional scars as well as the psychiatric illness. 

Being bullied on a constant basis during my teen years could not be proven as the cause of my condition. I was likely "pre-schizophrenic" as a teen, and, if this was apparent as a vulnerability, it may have led to predatory students singling me out for abuse and harassment. 

Mistreatment, by itself, is not enough to cause schizophrenic illness. If it were, there would be more psychiatric facilities than there are apartments and houses in the U.S. 

There ought to be a law. The public school system must be forced to address the mistreatment that occurs on an ongoing basis in our schools. We are raising successive generations of damaged individuals. When a student in a high school intentionally harms or harasses another student, there must be consequences. 

When a student is "not making it" among peers, this needs to be addressed. When I was in high school, the bullying directed toward me was "business as usual" and no one pointed out that it should not have been happening. It should not have happened. 

And, bullying behavior needs to be stopped. If we can't accomplish that, society will have a general breakdown, one worse than what we see today with the chaos in our government, as well as the ripple effect of the continuous crises in our government. It has begun to affect all parts of global and local conditions. 

Our government, if it is a moral government, which much of the time I believe it is, must act to stop the bullying. Doing that would do a lot to heal many of the problems that plague the American people. To start with, there would be less teen suicide. There would be less drug abuse. There would be fewer automobile accidents. Adults would be nicer kinder people because of not having scars left over from their pasts. You get it; stopping bullying would have a ripple effect, a good ripple effect, and millions of people would be better off in life. 

THE PUBLIC EYE: The Women’s Wave

Bob Burnett
Friday March 09, 2018 - 02:05:00 PM

There's continuing talk of a "wave" election in November; an election where Democrats across the nation vote in larger numbers than Republicans and take back control of Congress and many state legislatures. While a blue wave is likely, it won't be the result of superior organization by the Democratic Party. Instead it will be the result of a grassroots mobilization led by women. A November blue wave is predicted because most political experts believe that Democrats, and Independents, are more motivated to vote than are Republicans. A recent USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll reported that voters are unhappy with the country's direction and dissatisfied with President Trump. "58%-32% [of] those surveyed say they want to elect a Congress that mostly stands up to the president, not one that mostly cooperates with him." 

Notably, Trump is losing the support of women. The most recent Washington Post poll indicates 65 percent of women disapprove of the job Trump is doing. (Notably, a majority of white women disapprove of Trump.) 

Outside Washington, women are driving the resistance to Trump. This fact has three implications: the first is that women are leading the movement and, in many cases, running in opposition to incumbent Republican men. The second implication is that women are directing the construction of grass-roots voter mobilization efforts; in many instances these are separate from the Democratic Party. The third implication is that women are building campaigns based upon issues that resonate with their home base. 

Female Candidates: Multiple news sources have commented on the record number of women—overwhelmingly Democratic women—running in 2018. At the end of January, NBC News observed that "More than 500 women are running for major office." 

A significant percentage of the female Democratic candidates are women of color. Notable is Stacey Abrams who is running for Governor of Georgia. If I only told you that Stacey was an unmarried black woman, you'd think she had no chance in this race. But if I introduced you to Stacey—a graduate of Yale Law School, who is the Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives—you'd come away believing that she is the most qualified candidate. 

Stacey Abrams is the founder of The New Georgia Project which, for the last four years, has been working to register voters, primarily people of color. (In 2008, Barack Obama lost Georgia by 200,00 votes and there were 700,000 unregistered black voters.) Like Stacey, many of the 2018 female candidates are linked to grassroots organizations—most of which have a get-out-the-vote component. 

Independent from the Democratic Party: The Stacey Abrams campaign is independent of the Democratic Party; this is true for many progressive female candidates. 

A prime example of an independent organizing effort, led by women, is the Restaurant Opportunities Center . ROC is running campaigns for the benefit of America's 14 million restaurant workers—the majority of whom are women. (BTW: two-thirds of these women report being sexually harassed on the job.) In 2018, ROC is focussing on Michigan where state law permits restaurants to pay workers as little as $3.52 per hour. ROC is organizing 134,000 restaurant workers to put a "fair wage" initiative on the ballot and to vote in 2018. (In 2016, Trump won Michigan by 12,000 votes.) 

New Southern Strategy: The national Democratic Party has been focussed primarily on the Democratic bastions (California, New York) and the historic swing states (Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin). Meanwhile the resistance is funding strong efforts in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and Texas. 

Recently, there was a funding conference for the new southern strategy . Their funding strategies contrasted with those of the national Democratic Party. Way to Win begins locally with a "focus on field organizing and... targeted digital strategies." It's collaborative with an emphasis on "building independent political power... [and] long-term relationship[s]." 

Empowering the Base: The key element that distinguishes the new grassroots mobilization is that it starts at the local level not in Washington. The Way to Win charter states: "We believe that we can win by focusing on our base—a multiracial coalition of people of color, young people, and progressive white people—and offering an agenda that will try impact people's lives." Way to Win has five goals:
1. Reflective Democracy—candidates that reflect their communities
2. Local racial and economic justice accomplishments
3. Barrier removal—particularly barriers to voting
4. Base turnout increase
5. Shift political giving to the base—rather than the Washington political infrastructure. 

Because of the emphasis on local issues, the new grassroots' mobilization focuses on different issues from community to community and state to state. One example is the push in Michigan for a "fair wage" for restaurant workers. In Florida, Way to Win is supporting the "Restoration of Rights Coalition" which has sponsored a ballot initiative "to restore voting rights for more than 1.6 million formerly incarcerated people." 

By being community-centered, rather than candidate-centered, the new grassroots' mobilization aims to last for more than one election cycle. The political support aims to build a true progressive infrastructure not merely the election of a particular candidate. 

There's a wave coming. It's being led by progressive women, outside Washington, and it's likely to dramatically change the political landscape. 

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer and activist. He can be reached at bburnett@sonic.net  


ECLECTIC RANT: ICE Sweeps Northern California

Ralph E. Stone
Friday March 09, 2018 - 02:33:00 PM

yRecently, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted Northern California sweeps and claimed to have arrested more than 150 undocumented immigrants, half of whom had no criminal records. [Other accounts report more than 250 arrests.]The Trump administration’s racist, anti-immigrant actions have gone too far. ICE, by its own admission, swept up otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants, most of whom pay taxes and social security. 

My wife Judi is an immigrant from Venezuela, now a citizen. Many of our friends and acquaintances are immigrants, some of whom I suspect are undocumented. Actually, most Americans except American Indians are probably descendants of immigrants. Our country was built on their industry. We should support, not restrict immigration. That’s one of the reasons I am so angered by these hateful, unfair sweeps. 

These ICE sweeps terrorize undocumented immigrants, tear many families apart, and disrupt communities. ICE has become a rogue deportation army that is helping President Trump enforce his racist, anti-immigrant agenda and punish sanctuary cities like San Francisco and Oakland. 

Remember, it was President Trump who rescinded the Obama administration policy, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that had protected nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation. 

Trump has a short memory. He seems to have forgotten that Melania Knauss, now first lady Melania Trump, reportedly broke immigration law when she first came to the U.S. in August 1996 by entering the country on a tourist visa and then working as a professional model. She obtained an H-B1 visa as a “skilled worker" in October 1996. Thus, she was paid for 10 modeling assignments between September 10 and October 15 while she was still on the tourist visa. Tourist visas allow someone to stay in the U.S. for six months, but they cannot seek employment in the U.S. during that time. 

Knauss began dating Trump in 2000. Then in 2001, she was granted a green card (permanent residency) in the elite EB-1 program (sometimes called the the "Einstein visa"), which was designed for renowned academic researchers, multinational business executives or those in other fields, such as Olympic athletes and Oscar-winning actors, who demonstrated “sustained national and international acclaim.” Knauss’s credentials at the time included runway shows in Europe, a Camel cigarette billboard ad in Times Square and — in her biggest job at the time — a spot in the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated, which featured her on the beach in a string bikini hugging a six-foot inflatable whale. Obviously, green cards were more easily obtained by some at that time. 

Melania’s Slovenian parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, have been living in the U.S. with green cards, beneficiaries of “chain migration” that Trump has criticized and wants to end. 

As Harvey “Big Daddy” Pollitt remarked in The Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, “There ain’t nothin’ more powerful than the odor of mendacity!"

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Monday March 12, 2018 - 09:11:00 PM

Trump's Off-the-Cuff Remarks

Remember when reporters caught Donald Trump using a "cheat sheet" complete with five talking points during a meeting with survivors of the Florida shoot shooting?

I managed to grab a screen shot with a close-up of the memo clenched in Trump's hands and, sure enough, number five reads: "I hear you."

But here's the surprise. Look at Trump's left cuff. The number 45 appears on it.

Do all president's have their shirts monogrammed thusly or is it just Trump?

And, if so, why?

Is this to remind him he's the 45th POTUS?

Or is it the caliber of the concealed handgun he carries?

Or does he have a thing for old 45-rpm vinyl records?

I'm wondering if the right sleeve is similarly marked.

And what about his socks and undies? 

While a number of news outlets also spotted this, no one had any good explanations. However, a Google search turned up one interesting suggestion. It came in a Tweet sent to "Australia’s number one news site," news.com.au. It read: 

Iain McNally @McNastyPrime 

It’s actually “Step 45” in Trump’s 102-step instructions on how to dress himself: 

“45: insert arm in shirt (not jacket) sleeve, labeled ‘45’”  

iBumpers for Bump Stocks? 

Re Wayne LaPierre's argument that the cure for gun violence is more guns: 

I can only assume the NRA's solution to auto collisions would be to put more cars on the road. 


With a renewed campaign from Trump's sex-abuse accusers coming to a boil, I believe it's finally time to draw attention to a serial sexual miscreant whose work appears daily in the Chronicle

The offender of whom I speak is Al Fusco. 

Among the two leading tropes in The Fusco Brothers strip are: "There's a fly in my soup" and Al's "Your lips say 'No' but your eyes say . . . ." 

Al Fusco's frequent sexual innuendoes and repeated attempts to woo women to his apartment can no longer go unchallenged. 

This kind of "joke" is a hold-over from the Era of Male Entitlement that we are now struggling to out-grow. 

Al was recently rebuffed by his girlfriend Gloria who chided: "You make my skin crawl." 

Al's creepy response: "Your skin has to learn to crawl before it can learn to walk." 

And recently, Al admitted to using a sexist acronym when he sent a woman a text reading: "So Long Until Tuesday." (Yep. "SLUT.") 

If Al Franken has to loose his job, Al Fusco also must be held accountable. 

Washington Berates Schaaf: California F-rates DC 

Recently lawn-gnome-turned-Attorney-General Jeff Sessions flew to Sacramento to condemn Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf for sharing word of an impending ICE raid—aimed largely at rounding up law-abiding immigrants. Session claimed Schaaf's alert put the lives of ICE's enforcers at risk. 

How so? Does Sessions believe that, instead of fleeing or hiding out, immigrants would arm themselves, barricade their homes, and plot ambushes? 

Let's restructure the situation. Imagine a warlord who orders his minions to attack a nunnery and rape the residents. A local shepherd gets word of the plans and alerts the sisters, who flee their retreat. The thwarted warlord then gives a speech condemning the shepherd for endangering the lives of his troops. 

Honestly, sir, how dare you? 

Renaming a National Parks Highway after Trump? 

Last year, Donald Trump became the first US president to desecrate an officially declared national wilderness monument. Two, in fact: Both the Bears Ears and the Grand-Staircase-Escalante preserves were chopped up so land could be handed over to oil drilling and mining interests. 

With this record, the recent proposal to rename Utah's National Parks Highway after Mr. Trump would be like naming a Native American reservation after Gen. Andrew Jackson. 

A more suitable highway tribute to Trump's reign would be: 

A multi-lane expressway (with all lanes headed in the same direction). 

It would be a toll-road (no fee for commercial oil-tankers, however). 

Trump's turnpike would be distinguished by crumbling overpasses and potholes. 

It would feature hundreds of off-ramps for drivers eager to leave. 

The few on-ramps would be guarded by border agents demanding proof of citizenship before allowing anyone to enter. 

Finally, it would turn out to be a dead end. 

A fitting name for this commemorative road to nowhere? 

My suggestion would be: "It's All Trump's Big-Asphalt." 

WarSpeak Is Everywhere 

We shoot-down falsehoods, we go to bars to get loaded and blitzed, we stamp tickets, we punch cards and stand-up comics sometimes bomb. When we come under fire, we're encouraged to stand our ground and take a stab at finding a sure-fire solution that's right on target and not just a blunderbuss approach

The English language is a minefield of Improvised Expletive Devices. Not even Nobel Peace Prize winners are immune from uttering up-armored proclamations. 

Nelson Mandela once declared: "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." He could have said: "tool." 

Grid your Teeth 

PG&E's on-going campaign for what we might call "rehabilitation through feel-good advertising" recently took on a greenish hue. In a full-page advert in the March 8 Chronicle, PG&E headlined that "There is no GREEN ENERGY without a GREEN GRID." The ad proceeded to note that the utility had invested $15 billion to "enhance and strengthen the grid." 

What looked like an eco-friendly public service ad was actually an eco-deadly private service ad. Why? Because the grid is a big part of the problem—a sprawling, costly, hard-to-maintain piece of archaic infrastructure (much of it held-aloft by chopped-down pine trees—a 19th century technology). 

The Green solution is not monopolized commercial electricity corporations but decentralized energy systems. If everyone had solar panels on their roofs, there would be no need for The Grid. 

And there would be no need for PG&E. 

The Urban Warfare Olympics 

In his defense of the controversial Urban Shield military exercises, Alameda Country Sheriff's spokesperson Sgt. Ray Kelly told the East Bay Express: "It's basically the Super Bowl of [law enforcement] training. You want to come because you want to train and compete against the best teams in the world." 

I wasn't aware that Urban Shield was a competitive sporting event. 

My Question for Sgt. Kelly: "Who claimed the gold medal and who went home with the silver and bronze?" 

Does Turmp Know the Words? 

I just rewatched a video of President Trump's appearance at the National Championship Game in Atlanta. Have you noticed how his hand-on-chest salute is weird. His thumb sticks out and up -- like he's secretly trying to hitch a ride (or grope something). And he repeatedly pats his chest -- like he really loves himself or is suffering from acid reflux and his trying to dislodge a burp. And when the audience cheers, Trump breaks into a big grin, like they are all cheering him

Also, as others have observed, it looks like our "very stable genius" may not know all the words to the Star Spangled Banner. He does start singing when he gets to the part about "the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air." 


Maybe it would help if someone updated the National Anthem to fit the Age of Trump. Here's one attempt: 

The National Anathema 

O say, can you breathe 

through The Don's oily blight? 

"Help!" so loudly we wailed 

At the Red Light's last blinking. 

Whose bored tropes and bride's stares [i.e., Melania] 

Threw the perils a-flight. 

O're the rumpots we retched, 

War's expansions unending. 

And the rackets' Red Scare, 

Bimbos' G-strings ensnared, 

Grave proof through denial 

That our flag needs repair. 

Oy vey, does that tar-mangled bum our Green laws waive 

With a tweet of cruel decrees and our planet a-blaze.

Arts & Events

Island City Opera Presents Bellini’s LA SONNAMBULA

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Monday March 12, 2018 - 01:24:00 PM

Vincenzo Bellini’s La Sonnambula which to my knowledge was last seen in the Bay Area in a 1985 San Francisco Opera production featuring Frederica von Stade as Amina, the sleepwalker, tenor Dennis O’Neill as Elvino, and Samuel Ramey as Count Rodolfo, is currently enjoying a run by Alameda’s Island City Opera. In performances at Alameda’s Elks Lodge, La Sonnambula runs from March 7 to March 18. I attended the Sunday matinee on March 11; and La Sonnambula will also be given on Friday, March 16, and Sunday, Marc h 18. A trip to Alameda will be well worth your effort, for Island City Opera’s production of La Sonnambula is stellar. The cast is uniformly excellent; and the staging by director Olivia Stapp is both witty and intellectually stimulating. 

The latter statement is important, for La Sonnambula has not always been found intellectually stimulating. Its plot, with a libretto by Felice Romani, has too often been found wanting, if not a bit preposterous. It involves a beautiful, innocent young woman, Amina, from a Swiss mountain village who is beloved by all until she is found, on the eve of her church wedding to her beloved Elvino, sleeping in the bed of a mysterious aristocratic count who has only this day arrived in the village. The problem, you see, but which the villagers don’t see, is that Amina is a sleepwalker, one who is unaware of where she is and what she does while sleepwalking. When Amina sleepwalks into the room at the inn where the Count is staying, she thinks she is meeting her beloved Elvino. Realizing that Amina is sleepwalking, Count Rodolfo, a ladies man, is tempted to take advantage of her. But in the end he respects her innocence. However, the villagers do not respect Amina’s innocence when they happen to discover her asleep in the bedroom of the Count Rodolfo. Nor does her beloved Elvino believe that she is innocent. He feels sorely betrayed. 

It takes two full acts to sort out this issue; but Island City Opera’s production makes this opera move along at a brisk pace. Of course, there are many of Bellini’s long, languid arias and duets that seem to be endlessly lyrical, unfolding in extraordinarily long melodic lines with plenty of coloratura. But this is the joy of a Bellini opera. This is why we so highly value the special gifts of the Sicilian composer they nicknamed The Swan of Catania. 

In the role of Amina, soprano Eileen Meredith sang beautifully. In fact, this might be the best role I have heard her sing. Vocally and dramatically, Eileen Meredith threw herself into the character of Amina in a most convincing way. As her beloved Elvino, tenor Sergio Gonzalez equaled Eileen Meredith in vocal and dramatic conviction. They were well paired as lovers, well paired even in their moments when it was impossible for them to be on the same page in their love. But all works out well in the end. Even Count Rodolfo, who at first resembles Mozart’s Don Giovanni making advances to Zerlina on her wedding day to Masetto, eventually comes around to being a decidedly moral human being who helps educate the superstitious mountain villagers about somnambulism as a thoroughly understandable and forgivable human quirk. As Count Rodolfo, baritone Anders Froelich was outstanding. Vocally, he was superb; and he even danced up a storm at the village wedding celebration. 

In the role of Lisa, proprietress of a mountain village inn, soprano Aimee Puente was a hilariously over the top hussy, in love with Elvino but rebuffed by him, rebuffing in turn the attentions of Alessio, but ready at the drop of a hat (or an article of her clothing) to jump in bed with the newly arrived Count Rodolfo. Because of her unrequited love for Elvino, Lisa is a sworn enemy of Amina, Elvino’s beloved. So she schemes to alert the villagers when she happens to discover Amina asleep in Count Rodolfo’s bed, where, a moment earlier, she herself was all too ready to find herself. In a small but vitally important role as Teresa, mezzo-soprano Deborah Rosengaus was excellent as Amina’s foster mother. In the role of Alessio, a villager enamored of Lisa, bass Sam Rabonowitz was vocally robust and dramatically wimpy, as the plot requires. 

Throughout this production of La Sonnambula, Conductor Jonathan Khuner got the most out of his chamber-sized orchestra. A large chorus of villagers sang grandly in almost every scene of this opera. There were fine flute solos by Leslie Chin, bassoon solos by Kris King, clarinet solos by James Pyko, and percussion solos (including wood blocks to sound like horses’ hooves) by McKenzie Camp. Set and costume design, while rudimentary, were ably provided by Patrick Kroboth, Lighting was by David Lynch, and the overall stage direction by Olivia Stapp was a sheer delight. I can wholeheartedly recommend that you not miss this wonderfully entertaining and even instructive production of Bellini’s La Sonnambula.

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, March 11-18

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday March 10, 2018 - 11:06:00 AM

There is a heavy list of city meetings for the upcoming week with most meetings earning only a quick scan. The meetings of importance are:

  • City Council Tuesday evening 6:30 pm
  • Design Review Committee Thursday evening 7:00 pm
Meetings with likely good information for future decision making and city action:

  • Webinar Tuesday noon on preservation/treatment of Historic Buildings 12:00 noon, FYI -contract restricts webinar viewing to single site, (webinar login from home not allowed)
  • Urban Shield Subcommittee Wednesday afternoon 3:00 pm

The meeting list is also posted on the Sustainable Berkeley Coalition website.


Sunday, March 11, 2018 – Daylight Savings Time – Spring Forward

Indivisible Berkeley General Assembly, Sun, March 11, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm, doors open at 7:00 pm, 1970 Chestnut St, Finnish Hall, General Assembly meeting,



Monday, March 12, 2018 

Agenda Committee City Council, Mon, March 12, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm, 2180 Milvia St, 6th Floor Redwood Room, Agenda: Planning for March 27 City Council, Consent -3. Homeless Fund – STAIR Center, 4. Timothy Burroughs Director of Planning, 14. Ballot Measure for Police Oversight, Action - 18. HAC U1 Recommendations, 21. BACS to Operate Pathways Project, Zoning – R-1A 2nd dwelling unit 


Berkeley City Council, Mon, March 12, Closed Session 4:30 pm, 2180 Milvia, Cypress Room, 1st Floor, Agenda: Labor Negotiations Berkeley Fire Fighters and Police 


Civic Arts Commission, Mon, March 12, 8:30 am – 1:30 pm, 2180 Milvia St, 6th Floor Redwood Room, BART Plaza Sound Installation Selection Panel, Public Art 


Youth Commission, Mon, March 12, 6:30 pm, 1730 Oregon St, Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Services Center 


Tax the Rich rally – Monday, March 12, - daylight savings time hours 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm top of Solano in front of closed Oaks Theater, Rain cancels – small possibility of rain 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018 

Berkeley City Council, Tues, March 13, 2134 MLK Jr Way, City Council Chambers 

Closed Session: 4:30 pm, Agenda: Significant Exposure to Litigation 

Regular Session, 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm, Agenda 


  • 19. Police Foot Patrol in Downtown (on consent)
  • 25. ZAB Appeal 2212 Tenth St
  • 26. The PRC has made recommendations to respond to the Police Equity Report which showed racial bias – The Police Review Commission (PRC) recommends: adding data analyst, recording use of force, tracking by individual officer, implementation of body cameras, .
  • 27. Surveillance Technology and Community Safety has 3 versions: a. by the Police Review Commission (PRC) with counter proposal b. by the City Manager and c. by Mayor Arreguin – all inclusive of a. plus expansion to include reporting any data breeches, whistleblower protections, review of possible unintended sharing of data collected.
  • 28. Strengthening Significant Community Benefits needs support as Berkeley history shows over and over promised benefits offered by projects to gain community support often fall to the cutting room floor when it comes to actually building the project. Likely to be postponed.
  • 29. Supplemental Paid Family Leave a. Commissions on Labor & Status of Women – add job protection, financial resources, b. City Manager – refer for prioritization process – cost $945,485
  • 30. Storage for unhoused persons at Premier Cru a. Homeless Commission - provide storage, b. City Manager – decline storage
  • 31. BRIDGE Affordable housing project has a $15 million funding shortfall.


Landmarks Preservation Commission, Tues, March 13, 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm, 1947 Center St, Camphor Room 2nd Floor, Agenda: CA Preservation Foundation (CPF) Webinar broadcast, Secretary of Interior Standards for Treatment Historic Properties 


Wednesday, March 14, 2018 

Ad Hoc subcommittee on Urban Shield, Wed, March 14, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm, 2180 Milvia, Cypress Room, 1st Floor, Members: Arreguin, Davila, Harrison, Wengraf, Agenda: Presentation BPD Terrorism Liason Officer, BPD participation in NCRIC 


Homeless Commission, Wed, March 14, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: Pathways Project, Storage Personal items 


Parks and Waterfront Commission, Wed, March 14, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, 2800 Park St, Frances Albrier Community Center, Agenda: annual waiver berth fees for non-profits, off leash area – Cesar Chavez Park, 


Police Review Commission, Wed, March 14, 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm, 2939 Ellis St, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: PRC structure, BPD staffing shortage, enrollment of 1033 


Thursday, March 15, 2018 

Design Review Committee, Thur, March 15, 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm, 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center 


  • 2028 Bancroft Way / 2025 Durant Ave – relocate 3-story residential building to 1940 Haste St, construct 6-story 37-unit residential building (including 2 BMR) 2025 Durant convert parking area into 2-units
  • 2190 Shattuck Ave, 18-story mixed use at Walgreen’s site, 274 residential units, 103 parking spaces, building will obstruct view into the Bay including GG Bridge from Campanile Way


Fair Campaign Practices Commission, Thur, March 15, 7:00 pm, 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: Public Financing matching funds Kate Harrison, Alfred Twu 


Medical Cannabis Commission, Thur, March 15, 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm, 2180 Milvia St, 6th Floor, Agenda: cannabis ordinance changes 


Open Government Commission, Thur, March 15, 7:30 pm, 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center 


Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Product Panel of Experts, Thur, March 15, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, 2939 Ellis St, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: 


Transportation Commission, 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm, 1901 Hearst Ave, North Berkeley Senior Center 


Friday, March 16, 2018 

No meetings or demonstrations found 

Saturday, March 17, 2018 

No demonstrations found 

Sunday, March 18, 2018 

No demonstrations found 





Around & About--Music & Shadow Puppets: Wu Man and the Huayin Shadow Puppet Band, Sunday at 3, Hertz Hall, UCB

Ken Bullock
Friday March 09, 2018 - 02:24:00 PM

Pipa player Wu Man made a name for herself in America, where her lute-like instrument isn't so well-knpwn, by her virtuosic playing with the Kronos Quartet and Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble. While playing folk music from Shaanxi Province, she discovered the Huayin Shadow Puppet Band, bringing them to Carnegie Hall for the China Festival there in 2009. Now on tour in North America, Wu and the Shadow Puppet Band will perform this Sunday at 3 at Hertz Hall on the UC campus, close to College & Bancroft. Tickets are $42-$68. calperformances.org or 642-9988.

A Concert by the Early Music Group LES DÉLICES

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Friday March 09, 2018 - 02:49:00 PM

Founded in 2009 by noted baroque oboist Debra Nagy, Les Délices specializes in long neglected works by lesser-known composers of the Baroque period. Les Délices is comprised of Debra Nagy on oboe, Julie Andrijeski and Adriane Post on violins, Emily Walhout on viola da gamba, and Mark Edwards on harpsichord. On the weekend of March 2-4, Les Délices presented concerts in Palo Alto, Berkeley, and San Francisco. I attended the Saturday evening concert in Berkeley’s St. Mary Magdalen Church. 

Presented under the auspices of The San Francisco Early Music Society, the concert featured French music of the period 1730 to 1760, including several pieces by the great French composer Jean-Philippe Rameau. The highlight of the concert was a piece entitled Les Sauvages/The Savages, which was written by Rameau after witnessing the ceremonial dancing of two Native Americans who were visiting Paris. Rameau’s lively tune became a smash hit at the French court. Originally composed as a keyboard solo, Rameau reused it in his ballet Les Indes galantes, and the tune was adapted by many other composers. The setting performed here by Les Délices was for two violins arranged by Jean-Pierre Guignan, who performed it with his colleague Mondonville at the Concert des Tuileries. As performed by Les Délices violinists Julie Andrijeski and Adriane Post, Les Sauvages was a brilliant piece brimming with lively rhythms. Of course, there is, shall we say, a savage irony in a tune entitled Les Sauvages/The Savages inspired by a Native American dance becoming a musical hit at the luxurious French court. Orientalism, anyone?  

The opening piece at this concert was Sinfonia 1 in G by François-André Philidor (1726-1795) from his work L’Art de la Modulation. As this piece begins, oboe and violin play in thirds, while chromatic inflections and melodic intervals abound. A fugue ensues, dubbed by Philidor L’Arte della Fuga, and this music too has chromatic inflections. Then follows a peaceful Pastorella, and the piece closes with a sparkling Gavotta. 

Next on the program was Sonata I in B minor from Conversations à trois by François Martin (1727-1757). This work was performed by violinists Adrijeski and Post, and viola da gambist Emily Walhout. François Martin’s Sonata I in B minor offers lively, almost conversational music, with all three instrumentalists chiming in sequentially on musical phrase endings. Following the Martin work was Sonata Seconda, Op. 2 by Michel Blavet (1700-1768). This piece from 1732 featured virtuoso playing by oboist Debra Nagy, including some scintillating trilling. Closing out the first half of the concert was Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Troisième Concert from Pièces de Clavecin en concert (1741). In this work Rameau recycled some of his popular airs from his own operas, namely, Dardanus (1739) and Castor et Pollux (1737).  

After intermission Les Délices returned to open the second half of the concert with excerpts from several Rameau operas, including Boréades, Fêtes de l’Hymen, and Dardanus. Les Délices performed their own adaptations of these selections from Rameau’s operas. Next came the aforementioned Les Sauvages by Rameau; and the concert then closed with Sinfonia 5 in C from Philidor’s L’Art de la Modulation. All in all, this was a thoroughly delightful concert performed with delicacy and finesse by early music group Les Délices.