Homeless Community Leader In Danger from Leaky Placement

Tuesday December 18, 2018 - 08:39:00 PM

Marcia Poole reports that Mike Zint, a leader in the homeless community who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is experiencing a rapid decline in health due to a persistent leak into the apartment where he has been placed by Berkeley agencies. COPD causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. Symptoms include breathing difficulty, cough, mucus (sputum) production and wheezing.

She reports that "the HUB [Berkeley’s CENTRAL ENTRY POINT for Homeless Services]placed him at the edge of Oakland and San Leandro and neglected him for many months. His apartment has been inundated with water. He has severely restricted lung capacity and this is totally unacceptable. ... Please act immediately. It is only merciful to stop this continued cruelty to those who are in difficult circumstances. I beg of you." -more-

Comments/Amendments to CASA Compact

Jesse Arreguin [Mayor of Berkeley]
Wednesday December 19, 2018 - 09:55:00 AM

To: Carol Dutra-Vernaci, MTC Commissioner

Thank you very much for requesting my thoughts on the proposed CASA Compact, as approved by the CASA Steering Committee. As an alternate to the ABAG Executive Board, I have studied the various proposals and have been actively engaged in discussions at ABAG and with key stakeholders. Overall, I agree with the goals of the CASA Compact. We are facing a housing affordability crisis that requires bold action. The proposals are ambitious, and we must focus on the three components: production, preservation and protection if we are to prevent displacement and begin to reverse the troubling trend of rising housing costs.

We were first presented with these concepts at the November ABAG meeting. I acknowledge that this proposal has improved since it was initially presented, and MTC staff have made refinements based on input from the ABAG Board and stakeholders. My general concerns with some of the Compact Elements remain, it employs a “one-size fits all” approach to addressing the lack of housing production in job rich areas. Rather than rewarding those cities and counties that have produced new housing, Compact Element # 5 proposes minimum heights near transit stations and bus lines, overriding local regulations.

The proposed financing mechanisms are varied and could conflict with the ability for local jurisdictions to place bonds, parcel taxes or sales tax measures on local ballots to fund other services. In addition, do we need to create a new regional entity to propose and administer these funds? MTC or a new merged governing body can administer these new housing funds.

According to MTC figures, Alameda County has the best rate of jobs for new housing units produced: 4 jobs to every unit. Yet some of the Compact Elements will take away the right of cities to plan for new housing, and the regional funding sources including new employee head taxes, linkage fees and revenue sharing mechanisms as proposed will largely stay in the county of origin (75% will stay in the county of origin). Job rich cities in Santa Clara County that have driven the regional housing crisis, these funds which may be significant will not go to a regional pool and help San Francisco, Oakland or other cities help produce new affordable units. Therefore the impacts of the regional crisis are not being equitably distributed.

I believe fundamentally that we need a regional housing policy that focuses taxes and regulations on those communities that have experienced significant job growth but have resisted new housing production. Additionally, those companies responsible for enormous job growth must pay their fair share.

Below are my specific comments on the various Compact Elements for your consideration. Thank you for representing the interests of Alameda County cities in this process. -more-

Public Comment

Dazzle Your Rent Board! Avoid Registration! Pretend to be a Co-op!

Carol Denney
Friday December 14, 2018 - 04:05:00 PM

Around thirty years ago a bunch of tenants in my building got tired of the leaky roof, the lack of heat, the cockroaches, the asbestos, paying twice the rent as neighbors in the building with the same size units, enduring violence and favoritism on the property, and organized a rent strike. We paid our rent money into an escrow account instead of to the landlords. It took five years, but the money added up and it worked. I personally painted the hot pink "RENT STRIKE" signs in almost every window. No prospective buyer of the building wanted any part of an ongoing rent strike. With the City of Berkeley's help and a bank loan we bought the building at auction on the courthouse steps and fixed up the property.

We were not rich. We had and still have a variety of languages spoken among the tenancy, which makes working together a little more challenging. But we were up to the challenge. Our plans were outlined in our loan agreement with the City of Berkeley: to form a "limited equity" co-op and govern ourselves. We had the help of management companies in the beginning. We had a Board of Directors twelve strong, open meetings, disagreements to be sure, but enough shared principles and a mandate to keep rents low so that low-income tenants could have stable homes without having to worry about the favoritism, the unsafe conditions, or the inordinate rent increases we'd been putting up with for years.

Almost thirty years later we're still here. But the board is small and secretive. The limited equity co-op has been scrapped, although the Board of Directors instructs the building lawyer to fight against Rent Stabilization Board registration as required by law. The building is divided into "members" and "non-members" who pay different rents and have different rights, even though all tenants are legally part of the nonprofit. It's more like a cult; if you're in, you're in. If you're out you have no heat, bedbugs, pay higher rents, can't get repairs, and are constantly threatened with eviction. Just like before the rent strike. -more-


Praying for Mass Transit Won't Bring It Back

Becky O'Malley
Friday December 14, 2018 - 04:19:00 PM

l When I was a child in St. Louis in the late 1940s and early 1950s we lived two or three blocks from two streetcar lines to the north and south of our house and a bus line to the east. When we needed to shop for essentials like school shoes my mother took my sister and me downtown on the streetcar, wearing our white cotton gloves to make sure we didn’t contract polio by touching unclean surfaces. On a couple of very special occasions when I was about 10 I took the streetcar downtown all by myself to have lunch with my father near his office. No one worried about safety, since each streetcar had both a driver and conductor. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE:Searching for Trump’s Tipping Point

Bob Burnett
Friday December 14, 2018 - 04:09:00 PM

Twelve months ago, Donald Trump's presidential approval rating averaged 38 percent. Now, the 538 website suggests that Trump's approval rating has improved to 42 percent. (https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/trump-approval-ratings/). Thus, after two chaotic years, a significant segment of the electorate continues to approve of Trump's White House performance. What accounts for this? -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Expectations vs. Opportunities

Jack Bragen
Friday December 14, 2018 - 04:13:00 PM

Most people with severe mental illness can not handle the same levels of responsibility as most non-afflicted people. When expectations are too high, it can bring about various problems. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Trump-Fox News Symbiosis

Ralph E. Stone
Friday December 14, 2018 - 04:11:00 PM

President Trump recently picked Heather Nauert, the State Department’s spokeswoman and former breaking news anchor at Fox & Friends, as the next ambassador to the United Nations. -more-

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Tuesday December 18, 2018 - 10:17:00 AM

Xmas in Toyland: Baby Jesus Would Be Terrified

A holiday shopping visit to Games of Berkeley wasn't as jolly as I had anticipated.

On aisle after aisle, row after row, and shelf upon shelf, many of the shopping options had replaced Christmas cheer with tribal jeer. Scores of video- and board-games based on the Game of Thrones, Star Wars, and Harry Potter were embellished with the kind of incendiary, war-like imagery that would give the Prince of Peace nightsweats.

Swords, hatchets, axes, knives, spears, flaming wands, clenched fists, demons, skulls, and angry, screaming faces peered from the tops of every box of playthings. This is the "spirit of the season" in today's America? Forget choirs of angels singing Hallelujah. In modern Trumplandia, our holiday entertainment is provided by marauding bands of bearded devils waving wands and weapons.

Among the titles: Zombiecide, Lobotomy, Sommoners Wars, Ashes, 5-Minute Dungeon, Tyrants of the Underdark, Dead of Winter, Eldritch Horror, Rise of Moloch, Imperial Assault, Pandemic Legacy, Mansions of Madness, Betrayal at Baldur's Gate, Scoundrels of Skullport and Lords of Waterdeep. -more-

Arts & Events

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, Dec. 16-23

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday December 15, 2018 - 09:44:00 AM

The City meeting schedule is light as the holidays approach and Council goes on Winter Recess from December 20 – January 22, 2019 -more-

Esa Pekka Salonen: A Questionable Choice to Lead SF Symphony

James Roy MacBean
Saturday December 15, 2018 - 01:31:00 PM

I am quite disappointed with San Francisco Symphony’s choice of 60 year-old Finnish conductor Esa Pekka Salonen to replace Michael Tilson Thomas as their next Music Director. To my mind, they have simply opted for more of the same, thereby forgoing a chance to move decisively forward into the 21st century. There were plenty of young, vibrant conductors available. My favorite to succeed MTT was a much younger Finnish conductor, 49 year-old Susanna Målkki, who has repeatedly shown her brilliance here as a guest conductor. Naming her as the next Music Director would have been a major step forward in promoting women to top orchestral positions. But, no, the San Francisco Symphony played their cards conservatively, instead opting for yet another white male conductor, and one a bit long in the tooth at that. -more-

Back Stories



Praying for Mass Transit Won't Bring It Back 12-14-2018

Public Comment

Dazzle Your Rent Board! Avoid Registration! Pretend to be a Co-op! Carol Denney 12-14-2018


Homeless Community Leader In Danger from Leaky Placement 12-18-2018

Comments/Amendments to CASA Compact Jesse Arreguin [Mayor of Berkeley] 12-19-2018


THE PUBLIC EYE:Searching for Trump’s Tipping Point Bob Burnett 12-14-2018

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Expectations vs. Opportunities Jack Bragen 12-14-2018

ECLECTIC RANT: Trump-Fox News Symbiosis Ralph E. Stone 12-14-2018

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces Gar Smith 12-18-2018

Arts & Events

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, Dec. 16-23 Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition 12-15-2018

Esa Pekka Salonen: A Questionable Choice to Lead SF Symphony James Roy MacBean 12-15-2018