Will this be Cesar Chavez Park?
Will this be Cesar Chavez Park?


Droste and Upzoning

Russ Tilleman
Wednesday March 06, 2019 - 10:00:00 PM

What a surprise that a council member who was caught taking an illegal campaign contribution from Gordon Commercial Real Estate wants to upzone residential neighborhoods so developers can make more money!

Droste committed a crime by accepting that contribution. I think she should be prosecuted for a misdemeanor and, if convicted, barred from holding elected office as specified by BERA.

This was not a minor paperwork error, it was a serious corruption-related offense. -more-

Comments on Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) for UC Berkeley's Long Range Development Plan (LRDP)

Carol Denney
Wednesday March 06, 2019 - 10:58:00 AM

I am a former student of the university who does not oppose the university building housing, but who opposes building housing on People's Park, a city landmark on the state's roster of landmarks now in its 50th anniversary year, an international symbol of user development, free speech, and opposition to war.

The University of California, my alma mater, stated at the outset of its plan to build additional housing that it had nine sites to choose from for housing projects, all of which left the main campus property undisturbed. The main effect this has is to force more and more of the town to service the university's housing needs, compounding a housing crisis courting the lead nationwide for high prices and per capita homelessness.

The university's own "Long Range Development Plan" shows it has currently between 8,000 and 10,000 more students enrolled than it agreed to enroll in legally binding agreements with the City of Berkeley and its impacted neighborhoods. Its "Housing Master Plan" states plainly that even its long-term goals only provide for "two years of university housing for entering freshmen," and "one year of university housing for entering transfers" and "one year of university housing for graduate students" making certain that students will shortly, in the middle of their studies, face the housing shortage head-on.

The nine sites cited as available neglected to include vast open spaces on the main campus, which it clearly does not want to disturb in favor of destroying local landmarks. It also neglected to include empty, run-down and what seems to be deliberately neglected housing on the Smyth Fernwald tract near the main campus which once accommodated 74 families, a location with still operative dining room facilities. -more-

Urgent Notice Re People's Park SEIR

Mark McDonald
Saturday March 02, 2019 - 07:17:00 PM

This month the University of California (UC) has issued a stealth Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) for their Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) which contains the possible green light for seizing People's Park and building student housing. The clock for comments has already started and ends April 8 at 5 PM. This is a critical time for anyone who cares about preserving the Park or any of the other serious land seizures by the University to submit a comment in one of 3 ways which will follow. -more-

Page One

Suspect in UCB Punching Incident Identified and Arrested

Nicole Perez (BCN)and Planet
Sunday March 03, 2019 - 10:45:00 PM

Police said they have arrested a man suspected of punching a man staffing an information table on the University of California at Berkeley's Sproul Plaza last month.

Zachary Greenberg was arrested Friday and booked into jail by the University of California Police Department around 1 p.m.

Police did not say how they identified Greenberg as the suspect. It was unclear Friday if he had an attorney. -more-

Public Comment

Jim Crow Economics in Berkeley

Steve Martinot
Saturday March 02, 2019 - 07:13:00 PM

Debt Servitude

The term “debt servitude” has a double meaning. It means one is placed in servitude to one’s debt, and it also means one is placed into servitude to another person or institution through that debt.

Debt servitude was the structure by which Jim Crow replaced the form of forced labor called enslavement that preceded it. Debt servitude and Jim Crow characterized the class structure during the second third of this nation’s existence. When an unlikely Supreme Court decision on education pulled the cork out of that bottle, two whole decades of unremitting struggle to democratize this country ensued. The Reagan administration then commenced to put the cork back in that bottle. And in the process, it deregulated real estate (as well as finance), initiating an era of rising rents and a concommitant problem of “homelessness.”

There is a civil suit (in Alameda County Court), launched by the city of Berkeley, that exemplifies the modern form of debt servitude. The name of this case is “The City of Berkeley vs. Leonard Powell.”

Leonard Powell is a black veteran with a large family who bought a house before Reagan, and got it free and clear by the 1990s. He is now in the process of losing it to debt servitude. -more-

Climate note #5: "Your lifestyle or your life - physical and economic limits"

Thomas Lord
Saturday March 02, 2019 - 10:41:00 AM

The consequences of global warming in excess of 1.5°C warming are horrific. Tragically, we are on a trajectory past 3°C warming, which will quickly lock in mass extinction, many millions of assured deaths, and significant uncertainty that civilization or even the human species can survive.

To have a chance at a 1.5°C limit, global emissions must be cut by approximately 50% by 2030, a mere 11 years away.1 That goal is a 6% reduction per year, every year.

For us in the U.S, 6% per year is much too slow. We are the highest per capita emitter in the world. We are also in the most advantageous position to make immediate reductions. Equity concerns - such as the need of much of the Global South to develop sustainably - reinforce our obligation.
A 15% per year reduction is not too much to ask.

Fly less? Change our diets a bit? Vote for public transit? What the IPCC has shown us, in 2018, is that the laws of physics can not wait for such long-range, pie-in-the-sky plans. If we delay sharp emissions reductions, chances to stop at 1.5°C are lost. We will still be on a path towards 3°C warming.

There will be no "catching up", in other words. To miss this last remaining window of opportunity for serious change is to condemn many millions to death, and today's children to misery.

It is true that, in principle, we know of "technological fixes". For example, greatly improved public transit systems can sharply reduce emissions from cars. The principle is, at the moment, useless. It should be understood as a lament for not acting earlier. There is simply no economic possibility (in the broadest sense of "economic") to build such a transit system in time.

In that one example of car travel we can, if we are willing to look, see something very profound about the physical and economic barriers we are up against.

  • The laws of physics command a death-plagued, miserable single-lifetime future if we do nothing.

  • There is no practical or economic means to substitute sustainable forms of public transit for cars fast enough.

No sugar-coating: the only choice that remains is to curtail driving with no substitute ready, and manage the harsh economic fallout as best we can. -more-

Save Cesar Chavez Park

Carol Denney
Saturday March 02, 2019 - 10:27:00 AM
The trash left afterwards

"In what has become an annual tradition, at least 10,000 people gathered to smoke pot on Hippie Hill, despite the park’s smoking ban... revelers left behind 22,000 pounds of garbage... 'It’s a mess out here, and I have 40 people working out here this morning. This will cost the city $100,000. Probably by the time we’re done, this will cost my department $30,000 to $50,000 in staff time,' Ginsburg said. 'To put that in perspective, we can send one kid to summer camp for a week, for free, for about $300,' the Recreation and Park director went on to say..." - SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5)

The Berkeley City Council is slated to make Cesar Chavez Park a "designated location for cannabis events" at their meeting on Tuesday, March 12, an extreme hazard for those who don't wish to be or can't be exposed to smoke. They plan for the smoking to be in a "smoking tent"; SF's "hippie hill" (photo at left) helps us imagine how well that will work. Berkeley students, residents, and workers get exposed to both tobacco and marijuana all over Berkeley as it is. The California law decriminalizing marijuana specifically prohibits smoking in public.

Please help protect our smokefree parks. Write to, and encourage any group (you don't have to be from Berkeley) you work with to write to: council@cityofberkeley.info -more-

RV Permitting Nightmare, or Hit the Road, Jack

Carol Denney
Saturday March 02, 2019 - 07:21:00 PM

Anti-homeless laws don't work; the last thirty years proves it. Anti-RV laws, such as Berkeley's vote for a prohibition on parking from 2-5 a.m. while creating a nightmarish two weeks-only permitting system has the same probability of being pointless. The Berkeley City Council probably knows this. But the majority just doesn't care.

Only a couple of them at the special meeting Thursday, February 28, 2019, had the common sense to note that the police were actively concentrating RVs in the west Berkeley. At least some of them know police often just make up the rules as they go. It makes those of us in the police's sights wonder why the Berkeley City Council majority even bothers pumping out more rules. The police do whatever they want whenever they want to the poor, rules be damned.

Here's why they do it; it makes the homeowners and business owners pressuring against the RV community feel like something was done. Even if pointless, even if useless, even if heartless, something happened. A crank turned. The City Manager's office will whir with authority and fluff the detail, the City Manager's office will try to craft an elegant evasion of Martin vs. Boise, and the City Council gets to pose next to their RV permit process like a proud hunter standing by a dead bear. -more-


Jagjit Singh
Friday March 01, 2019 - 12:14:00 PM

Both President Trump and President Madura are facing off moving towards a cataclysmic showdown. Mr. Trump’s veiled threat to the Venezuelan military to abandon President Nicolás Maduro or “lose everything” can only be interpreted as a pretext for military intervention. -more-

Don’s Attack Dog Attacked by the Republicans

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday March 01, 2019 - 12:20:00 PM

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s long time attack dog drew back the curtains of his boss’s sordid business activities and private life. His riveting testimony validated what most of us have long suspected. -more-

New: Tragic Trump

Marc Sapir
Sunday March 03, 2019 - 08:13:00 PM

Donald Trump, with his many criminal machinations, kidnapping of migrant children and unrepentant hate speech, deserves to be in federal prison. Yet for all that, with his hopes to prove a foreign policy genius on Korea punctured, Trump becomes a tragic figure. Trump floated the idea of negotiating an end to the never ended Korean War (something both Koreas’ leaders want) in exchange for Kim Jong Un ending his nuclear weapons program. It might have worked. -more-

March Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Wednesday March 06, 2019 - 10:37:00 PM

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

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

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

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

New: Cannabis Gathering in Cesar Chavez Park

Sid Small
Sunday March 03, 2019 - 08:25:00 PM

f you have ever gone to Cesar Chavez Park the day after the Kite Festival you will find lots used toilet paper under bushes, behind trees and on the grass and yet we allow this to continue year after year. I can’t imagine that a gathering of cannabis users would be any more inconsiderate of public health than the attendees of this festival. My dog and I stayed away from the park when Frankie Graham took it over for his religious/political rally because it upsets me to hear that. Frank and his peeps had their day in the park and me and Shadow went somewhere else that day. It was not a big thing for us to go to a different park that day and let them do their thing.I would hope that the few folks who are affected by smoke would choose one of the many other Berkeley parks for one day and allow a few hundred like minded folks to do their thing. -more-


Framing Upzoning in Berkeley: A Case History

Becky O'Malley
Saturday March 02, 2019 - 09:44:00 AM

If you’re one of those troglodytes who’s concerned that Berkeley’s becoming Silicon Bedroom, you might want to listen to this podcast (that’s the with-it term for an audio recording which you can also hear on your desktop computer):


It’s forty minutes of giggly girly chitchat produced by an organization called YIMBY Action, described thus by the producers: “Round-table discussions on local politics and urban policy with folks hanging out at the Yimby Clubhouse in downtown San Francisco. Regulars include Laura Foote, Sam Moss and a few other loudmouths.”

Here’s what they say about this episode: “Berkeley councilmembers Lori Droste [District 8] and Rashi Kesarwani [District 1] join us to discuss their effort to expand missing-middle housing options. We also talk opportunity and belonging in the Bay Area. And a fun side story: UC Berkeley students' recent advocacy for housing at 2190 Shattuck, at what Laura describes as the "F*ck a View hearing," after a memorable student sign. (The councilmembers want you to know Laura called it that, not them.)”

Why should you care about what these people say? Well it’s the roadmap for what these two councilpersons hope to achieve with a new proposal they’ve catchily captioned “The Missing-Middle”.

The name is a confusing conflation of a number of different concepts: middle-size, middle-class, middle-income and more than a dash of Middletown. It’s one architect’s branding coinage for an idea submitted to last Tuesday’s Berkeley City Council meeting, with the YIMBYs’ blessing, by Droste and Kesarwani plus councilmember sponsors Ben Bartlett and Rigel Robinson. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Mayor Arreguin Jumps On Board the Developers' Gravy Train; Endorses YIMBY "Missing Middle" Plan.

Saturday March 02, 2019 - 11:54:00 PM

Received from a reader after the editorial was published, the mayor's tweeted reply to a YIMBY booster of the "Missing Middle" scheme:

Replying to
Totally agree and I support this study. We need to expand housing opportunities for all. I tried to get this passed last night and we will get it done on March 26th.

s -more-

Don't Miss This

Sunday March 03, 2019 - 07:38:00 PM

If, perchance, you wonder what your state senator is up to since AB827 was stopped in committee last year, read this piece by Tim Redmond in 48hills.org:
The Democrats in Sacramento want to deregulate housing — but that has never worked



ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Reasons to Cooperate with Treatment

Jack Bragen
Friday March 01, 2019 - 11:54:00 AM

When a psychiatric consumer becomes "noncompliant" they face massive forces going against them. The "system" is designed to funnel those who are uncooperative into conservatorship, or worse. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT:Michael Cohen in the Spotlight

Ralph E. Stone
Friday March 01, 2019 - 11:56:00 AM

On February 17, Michael Cohen, the ex-attorney and fixer for President Donald Trump, persuasively testified before the House Oversight and Reform Committee assailing Trump as a “racist,” “con man,” and “cheat." -more-

New: SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Sunday March 03, 2019 - 08:14:00 PM

R.I.P.: Noted in Passing

One of Berkeley's oldest residents died in a tragic fall during last week's storms. A towering eucalyptus tree in the middle of the King Park and Pool playground lost its footing in the rain-soaked soil and tumbled to the ground with a crash and a thud that woke nearby residents.

Fortunately, the gigantic tree toppled during the night. Had it fallen during the day, the results could have been tragic because it came crashing down right on top of the adjacent children's playground, mangling several swings, ripping holes in the spongy groundcover, and crushing the surrounding metal fence.

The tree once stood more than 100 feet tall but Friday morning saw it sprawled across the play area, its massive base uprooted and work crews busily sawing the enormous trunk into refrigerator-sized chunks. The toppled tree was so huge that the sections of sawed trunk scattered on the ground rose over the heads of the clean-up crew working to clear the site.

By the time students began arriving at MLK Jr., the cleanup was already well underway.

The tree will be missed. But, given the odds that it could have rumbled down on a playground filled with children, let's give thanks that it missed.


Arts & Events

New: Is the Takács Quartet the Best in the World?

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Sunday March 03, 2019 - 10:42:00 PM


The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, March 3-10

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Friday March 01, 2019 - 06:52:00 PM

Worth Noting:

The new/restructuring of Berkeley City Council Policy Committees is starting to fill the daytime hours. If the first Land Use Committee is an example of the future, the City staff attendees will vastly outnumber citizens.

Four meetings stand out as worth attending for important issues, Wednesday - Planning Commission, Thursday - Council Land Use in the morning , Council Infrastructure which includes Climate in the afternoon and Housing Advisory Commission in the evening. Agenda Highlights for the March 12 , 2019 City Council meeting are posted at the end. -more-

Back Stories



Framing Upzoning in Berkeley: A Case History 03-02-2019

The Editor's Back Fence

Mayor Arreguin Jumps On Board the Developers' Gravy Train; Endorses YIMBY "Missing Middle" Plan. 03-02-2019

Don't Miss This 03-03-2019

Public Comment

Jim Crow Economics in Berkeley Steve Martinot 03-02-2019

Climate note #5: "Your lifestyle or your life - physical and economic limits" Thomas Lord 03-02-2019

Save Cesar Chavez Park Carol Denney 03-02-2019

RV Permitting Nightmare, or Hit the Road, Jack Carol Denney 03-02-2019

Venezuela Jagjit Singh 03-01-2019

Don’s Attack Dog Attacked by the Republicans Tejinder Uberoi 03-01-2019

New: Tragic Trump Marc Sapir 03-03-2019

March Pepper Spray Times By Grace Underpressure 03-06-2019

New: Cannabis Gathering in Cesar Chavez Park Sid Small 03-03-2019


Droste and Upzoning Russ Tilleman 03-06-2019

Comments on Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) for UC Berkeley's Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) Carol Denney 03-06-2019

Urgent Notice Re People's Park SEIR Mark McDonald 03-02-2019

Suspect in UCB Punching Incident Identified and Arrested Nicole Perez (BCN)and Planet 03-03-2019


ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Reasons to Cooperate with Treatment Jack Bragen 03-01-2019

ECLECTIC RANT:Michael Cohen in the Spotlight Ralph E. Stone 03-01-2019

New: SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces Gar Smith 03-03-2019

Arts & Events

New: Is the Takács Quartet the Best in the World? Reviewed by James Roy MacBean 03-03-2019

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, March 3-10 Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition 03-01-2019