Urban planning

Running Wolf promotes tree-sit in People’s Park

The lone tree sitter on his tree platform/Photo: Lance Knobel

Zachary Running Wolf, who participated in the long-running tree sit near Cal’s Memorial Stadium and who ran for mayor of Berkeley in 2008, has started is promoting a tree sit in the northeast corner of People’s Park. A tree sitter Running Wolf ascended the tree late last night and built a platform about 40 feet up, to protest what he sees as the ongoing destruction of People’s Park by the university.

“It was a pretty chilly,” Running Wolf the tree sitter said this morning. “It takes some time to get used to living in a tree.”

In a video made by Indybay before Running Wolf climbed the tree last night, Running Wolf cited “the basic persecution of homeless people and the people in the park” as a reason to protest. Running Wolf is also critical of plans by George Beier, running for Councilmember in District 7, which includes People’s Park, to erect a museum and soccer goals in the park. Beier made the suggestions in responding to Berkeleyside reader questions.

There’s only one tree sitter Running Wolf said that he’s the lone tree sitter for the moment in People’s Park, which Running Wolf calls Muwekma Park, from the Ohlone word for “people”. “Not many people know about it yet,” the tree sitter said.

According to Lieutenant Alex Yao of the UC Berkeley Police, officers were aware of the protest and have been making frequent checks of People’s Park. “At this point there’s no obstruction, but we’ll continue to make regular checks,” Yao said. “We want to make sure any conduct does not interfere with the safety or rights of the public.”

Update A commenter (below) points out that I misidentified the tree sitter. The corrections have been made.

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  • Melanie

    I don’t have any objection to tree sitting, but I do object to Mr. Running Wolf, the gentleman who was reported to have destroyed our local traffic circle’s revolving art project: a tree, suitably enough, that neighbors would decorate for Hallowe’en, Easter, Passover, summer solstice, and other occasions, etc.; he apparently objected to someone’s festooning it with “Go Cal!” signs at the beginning of football season last year. Strange behavior for someone who lauds public self-expression, or at least as long as it’s his own.

  • laura menard

    Well I do have an objection to this people’s park protest, that will only increase the yelling, fighting and chaos residents nearby are subjected to day and night.

    My brother disabled by young onset Parkinson disease lives directly across the street. It took me over 6mths to find this below market studio at the point when my bro could no longer work for a living.

    Our lives are already extremely difficult, without sufficient resources and a very serious heartbreaking disease.
    Just when the rains and cold were coming which might lessen the number of folks sleeping on the parking strips, this protest means more drama day and night. When I deliver groceries or laundry I can rarely park, much less exit the car without stepping over sleeping people and their stuff. I am have ticketed for double parking when dropping my disabled brother off.

    Talk about feeling hopeless some days, I am already overwhelmed daily. This kind of drama does nothing to help marginalized folks, People’s Park is a disaster for years, mentally ill folks are afraid to enter the park, gee even Michael Diehl has been assaulted in the park recently.

    If there are any COMPASSIONATE landlords willing to rent a one bedroom to my brother, please contact me, I am in the book.
    At this point in his disease, quality of life is experienced sporadically when his body, meds, and brain are working well enough to allow some relief from the suffering.

    Thanks Running Wolf.

  • Jayne

    I wish Running Wolf would just start running, and fade away. If his opinions make sense or not, there are still MANY ways to express them without using public funds. Or abusing his neighbors’ sense of privacy and/or safety. That a disabled man and his caregiver have to suffer while he sits in a tree – What idiocy! What Berkeley gives in to… with our money, etc. etc. I’m a liberal, too, but RM is an ego-maniacal, selfish jerk (or mental patient who needs treatment, not acceptance).

    And Laura – you CAN get a disabled parking placard for your brother & yourself, you know. It would help – a bit!

  • jjohannson

    I’ll take the 12-6 am waste disposal shift…

  • pay attention people

    uh, that photo does not depict running wolf. follow that indybay link again and look at the photo of running wolf there. not the same person

  • Brightside

    At least if Running Wolf is in a tree in People’s Park, we know he’s not off somewhere else doing something even more asinine. On a per capita basis Berkeley spends much more to address homelessness than most U.S. cities. Asking for a basic standard of public behavior and wanting to make the park a safer, more enjoyable place for neighbors and park users is NOT persecution. If this doesn’t help convince people that Southside needs new leadership, I don’t know what will.

  • laura menard

    Thanks Jayne, we finally did get a disabled placard, the only blue space is up the block on Dwight, so with groceries it is still pretty inconvenient.

    Berkeley host 65% of the chronically homeless compared to Alameda County 10%. Chronically homeless refer to the group of service resistant folks that eat up the lion share of public safety costs and negatively impact business district vitality.

    Currently the “traveling youth” and gutter punks have added another layer of aggression and anarchy to the park and Telegraph culture.

    Unfortunately the powers that be have waited far too long to correct this mess, which means that to get any control tougher solutions are needed.

    Follow progressive Santa Cruz and adopt an enforceable no sit lie policy.
    Require all alleged service providers to obtain a permit, including Food not Bombs.
    Require those in need to use existing services at the Multi Agency Service center, stop the enabling by delivering food, clothes and illegal drugs to park campers.

  • concerned

    Laura, it might take some time but I suggest you place your disabled brother’s name on the waitlists for affordable housing in Berkeley. Affordable Housing Associates and Resources for Community Development are two Berkeley-based nonprofit developers of affordable housing. I also hope his name was placed in the recent lottery to get on the wait list of Berkeley Housing Authority’s housing voucher. I read news accounts that as many as five thousand households applied just to get on a waitlist that would have only 1,500 names! That wait list won’t open up again for a few years.

    Since your brother is disabled, I assume he receives Social Security disability? and that also suggests Medicare and Medi-Cal (medi medi!). As a disabled person, he is probable eligible for apartments in buildings for seniors.

    Also, check out Satellite Housing. Their projects in Berkeley are mostly limited to folks age 62 and older but in other municipalities they have a few projects that will rent to age 62 and/or mobility impaired.

    Housing wait lists do move. Openings do occur. If you place your brother’s name on all possible building lists, and maybe check in once in awhile with the property manager, you will find an opening.

    Some people are put off at the idea of moving into affordable housing, associating, I think, unfounded stigma about being with ‘the poor’ or taking charity. Also, some folks have stereotypes that associate affordable housing with public housing but they are two very different markets. Affordable Housing Associates and Resources for Community Development maintain wonderful living communities in their properties.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if you were to discover that your brother is much happier living in a building full of the elderly, the disabled and the working poor than to live in a ‘market rate’ building adjacent to People’s Park. In a college town like Berkeley, when you rent a down market apartment, you run the risk of running into partying college kids. If you brother lives in a professionally managed affordable housing building, the odds are greater for him to have stable quiet neighbors.

    Your brother does have to be income eligible for affordable housing. You suggest economic resources are tight so I have assumed his income is sixty percent of less of the area’s median income: that is the cut off for many affordable projects . . .and, admittedly, the income cut off is lower for some projects.

    If you take one day and dedicate it to getting your brother’s name on all the possible wait lists in Berkeley, I bet he could be in a new apartment within a year. Having to wait can seem like an eternity but time passes, his name will rise to the top. . blessing on you in the meantime.

    While helping someone find affordable housing in Berkeley a couple years ago, I found an affordable studio advertised on craiglist! It was in an Affordable Housing Associates (AHA) building downtown on Shattuck. It was a bright, sunny, abliet teeny tiny studio overlooking a courtyard. And that building had one bedrooms. The wait lists for such properties move faster than most people realize. Think about it. If someone puts their name on the list while they are looking for a home, they keep looking until they find a home. Then, when their name comes to the to of the list, many people on such lists are no longer looking to move. The list can move fast. I never would have guessed that AHA had to advertise on craigslist. I had assumed they never ran out of wait lists. . . but they do.

    It’s a waiting game. But if you are patient, you will find an affordable home for your brother. Another benefit to being in affordable housing: community services right in the building. AHA buildings, some of them, are served by meals on wheels, for example. It’s not quite assisted living . . but it is a big step up from living in a market rate studio full of students and People’s Park denizens.

  • Freakshow

    Running Mouth still owes the City of Berkeley $500,000 for the SAHPC legal fees the city wasted, plus the replacement for all vandelized STOP signs in Berkeley where he spray painted “Driving” underneath them.

  • Freakshow

    As for people’s park, the University owns the property, so good luck with getting the City of Berkeley to do anything. I never go over there due to the crazies that inhabit that cesspool. Nothing will ever get done with people’s park because the city and UC enjoy having the nuts concentrated in one area and not scattered around the city and campus. It makes their job easier.

  • laura menard

    Wow, concerned thank you so much!!

    And yes I have done all that you so kindly explain. We did not make the recent lottery cut, but fortunately because of reasonable accommodation for disabled we are on the list now and are anxious to get started with the next hurdle, searching for a landlord that accepts section 8 in a good area of town.

    AHA Inc owns the building my bro lives in now and last year they obtained a few project based vouchers, so thankfully now the rent is affordable at 1/3 of $840 mth, that only is a huge relief.

    I tried every possible way to get HUD or the various affordable housing developers to allow my bro to live in senior housing for the very reasons you mention, it was a head banging exercise of the worst order. They claim there are no bending age restrictions of 55 or 62 based on funding formulas of each project.

    Over the years searching for housing options, I watched city council and the housing authority board do some interesting things, such as provide developers with a fairly large numbers of vouchers for future construction essentially removing those subsidizes from distribution. This enables developers to obtain a more favorable financing agreement based on guaranteed rents. Ashby Arts is one such project.

    Lastly, a warning for anyone self employed, maintain good disability insurance if you can afford it.

    And a thanks, the changes at the housing authority mean one can be treated with respect and have an expectation of fair treatment.

  • Freakshow

    Last thing, everybody needs to just IGNORE tree-sitters and they will go away. Same principal for temper tantrums from children.

  • Freakshow

    Laura,

    I am curious, is there a reason you/your bro are so set on living in Berkeley?

  • laura menard

    Freakshow,

    Not set on living in Berkeley, but like all folks various factors take priority such as employment, kids in school, finishing this old sweat equity house,etc. Now that a voucher is possible we need to wait that out too.

    Any ideas of well governed Nor Cal cities with high walk ability rates, good weather and jobs? I am open and looking.

    Actually, plenty of my neighbors feel the same.

  • Ghostchaser

    Right On Running Wolf!! In memory of all the Indigenous Peoples Genocide I personally support Zachary Running Wolf. Most people who live in Berkeley don’t even know that Indigenous Ohlone tribes lived here!!!–they always look astonished that there were tribal members here and that they had a $5.00 pricetag on their heads for their death.Oh sure kill a Native and collect a $5.00 bounty.Thats the true history of collanization.Happy Thanks-killing.

  • George Beier

    I have talked — often — about a small museum or cafe in the Park. I think it would be great to have a “Free Speech Trail” down Telegraph with plaques, similar to the ones on Addison. We could highlight significant alums or perhaps parents could buy bricks for their graduating children as gifts. The trail — similar to Boston’s — would end up in the park with a cafe to honor the FSM and the sixties activism that followed.

    I do not want a soccer field. I have said that soccer goals that students could drag out to the field would be great. Southside has limited fields — we should get as much use out of this one as we can.

    Bottom line — Peoples Park does not work as a community park. If I win the election tomorrow, we can start to change that.

  • concerned

    Laura. . . don’t make any assumptions. If your brother has a voucher — if he just got one, he has, what, sixty days to find a landlord? It is hard to find landlords willing to take vouchers . . . leave no stone unturned. And then remember once his one year lease is up on the voucher, he can move again . . . so use the voucher, take whatever you can get . . . and then during the year, pay attention to lists.

    In theory, private nonprofit affordable housing developers are supposed to maintain waitlists with careful accuracy but they don’t. The property managers at each site tend to let people they know in . . think about it from their point of view . . a resident gives notice (or dies). The property manager just wants to fill it. She doesn’t want to go through a list. Phones numbers are disconnectec, folks have moved. But a friend of a current resident is there, asking about apartments . . . it is easy to just let that person in. such a person still has to document their financial eligibility . . .

    It’s not fiar but it is the way the world works. Public authorities tend to have better databases, although it sounds like you are aware that the Berkeley Housing Authority got into trouble a short while back because it turned out their wait lsits were meaningless . . .that the public authority was letting in cronies — eligible cronies but friends of friends are not supposed to score the apartments, the people whose names are on the waitlist are supposed to get them.

    and another thing: these managers don’t keep names. If they call someone on the list once and they don’t hear from them, that person is SOL. And who’s going to know?

    Check out Oregon Street Apartments. That is a ratty affordable housing building owned by a private developer. The developer is legally required to charge a certain rent.They are all one berooms, there are no elevators so you brother can only go on the first floor, I imagine, if he can’t do stairs. But the developer likes to rent to folks with vouchers bexause with a one bedroom voucher in Berkeley, the Developer can charge about $1,200 rent . . but he can only charge about $750 to folks without vouchers. . .

    The property manager there is a bad manager. We went there and applied in person and he took my app and he lit up when he saw we had a voucher — but then, I think, he lost my paperwork. His office was a mess. I called him — we really wanted ANYTHING in BErkeley, just to get into the East Bay . . . and he looked me straight in the eye and said he didn’t remember me coming in at all, let alone handing in the app. But I had.

    THEN a few weeks later, he called me and said he had an apartment for me. He must have found my paperwork, had another opening and he wanted the higher rent he could get from the voucher. . . but by then we had found a much better place. . .

    Once your brother uses the voucher, after his one year is up, he can transfer the voucher to other landlords. Keep that in mind. Just take anything to maintain the voucher . . and then he can give notice and switch once a good building with AHA or RCD opens up.

    I guess local municipalities can change how they deal with seniors and the disabled. In the city I used to live in, disabled folks were allowed in all senior buildings. Here, esp. in the east bay (this is less true in mid-peninsula and over in the city and down in SJ), the 62 limit tends to be very rigidly enforced. I wouldn’t have such a problem with that if there were any buildings dedicated to the disabled. They have buildings dedicated to families, dedicated to singles, dedicated to seniors . . but, as far as I know, none dedicated to the disabled. . .

    also, freakshow . . . BART is a big reason we focus on berkeley. Plus Berkeley has more affordable housing — even though Berkeley has a pathetially inadequate amount — than most cities in the east bay.

    Check out RCD buildings outside of the Bay. . and AHA . AHA has a cool project in Sebastopol. . . and one of them has some cool things in Walnut Creek . .

    if someone is going to be permanently poor/disabled, and not own a car, the closer in you are, the fuller the life you are going to live. Living in distant suburbs that tend to have much less public transit is a lot harder.

    I moved here from Mountain View. MV is a very nice little city and the climate is significantly warmer and sunnier . . but it is far far far away from almost anything I ever wanted to do. And without a car . . . on weekends, where I lived, there was no public transit. None. The closest bus line from my apartment was two miles away on El Camino . . . if I wanted to go anywhere on the weekend, I had to hump two miles each way to the bus . . and then spend hours on slow buses or trains . . . you can live that way . . but for the same amount of rent, you can live in a city and have it all right outsideyour doorstep. Poor people want the same things as everyone else. . .

    Yeah, I bought a bike so I could ride those two miles . . . but I am in my late fifties. . . in two years, or five years. . that two miles to the busline was going to get longer and longer and the idea of living near BART and buses grew more and more attractive. . .

    Yeah, I could get a cart and roll groceries home a couple miles and I did . . but as a longterm lifestyle? it seemed hard.

    Everyone makes their own choices but as a poor person — and I am poor and disabled myself — living in Berkeley is much much much more appealing than living in Walnut Creek or Sebastopol . . esp. without a car. . . it’s not snobbery. It’s practical stuff. In the suburbs, I spent too much time isolated in my apartment. In the city, I am living much more actively. And I bet al these things apply to Laura’s brother.

    For a poor person, there are factors beyond jobs, schools. . .

    look at what AC Transit is doing . . there are going to be whole chunks of Oakland, now, the poorest parts of the city where real people with real families don’t own cars, that will have NO bus service on the weekends. Do we expect working parents, stressed by poverty as well as parenthood, to give their children decent social lives on the weekend when going anywhere invoves miles-long walks to the nearest bus line? Poor families like to go on outing on the weekend. . . living in Berkeley, which still has decent bus access all weekend, is much more appealing.

    When you are poor, the world looks very different than when you are middle class and you can thoughtlessly hop into a car anytime you want to do something.

    Laura, I note you say ‘well governed’ .. I had a little laugh. I don’t think Berkeley is very well governed.

    Freakshow, where would you suggest poor people with vouchers and no cars live? Have you thought about such a perspective before?!

  • Freakshow

    Laura,

    That’s cool, I was just wondering. I don’t really know about the social programs out there. I guess I am lucky to not need them.
    I would offer to suggest parts of San Francisco as a good walkable place to live, but you mentioned, “Well governed” so I won’t suggest SF. Berkeley isn’t that well governed either, unless you have the means to cut through the BS.

    Well, good luck to you and your brother. I hope things workout.

  • tizzielish

    George, if Kriss Worthington is re-elected tomorrow, and I hope he is,
    “we” can continue as a community to try to improve the situation at People’s Park. Your comment made it sound like you have some special magical power, like a magic wand. No single person, not even a great, mighty city council member is going to fix People’s Park.

    And it behooves you, as an aspiring city councilperson, to remember that the city does not own People’s Park and thus, even if you were to win, and I hope you don’t, city council does not really have any say over the park.

    FYI, I don’t vote in your district, George. I will cheer if you win tomorrow. YOu seem like a good guy who cares about Berkeley, with real positive passion for Telegraph. I support Worthington primarily because the Bates cabal holds too much sway in this city. This city needs a plurality of voices on the council but Bates wants it to be a unified voice following a single vision. That kind of enforced unity just doesn’t fit the great city of Berkerley which is great precisely because of its history respecting all voices. the Bates cabal, and you have positioned yourself in this election to benefit from Bates’ strategy of total control of the council in the way you have positioned the ranked voting thing. That’s why I opposed your election.

    Your position on the ranked voting thing suggests to me that you are same-old-same-old politics positioning yourself as new and different but, gosh, if you are sucking up to power even before you get elected and playing games of straegy instead of addressing substance . . . no thanks. We have plenty of games players on the council already.

    Kriss Worthington disappoints me all the time but he has been a stalwart for progressive issues for a long time and his dedication deserves support. We need new voices – Jesse Arrequin! — and seasoned wisdom too.

    I am sure, George, that you will continue to share your voice with the city I know you love even if you don’t win tomorrow.

  • Freakshow

    George Beier,

    Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t People’s Park located on top of UC property therefore the City of Berkeley doesn’t really get to determine how to develop the property? Wasn’t that the whole point of the 1960′s protests there, because UC wanted to build student housing on the property and folks protested and made a garden etc, so it remained open space. I remember in the 1990′s UC put sand filled volleyball courts in there, which was flop due to the broken glass that was constantly found in the sand.

    I don’t think Berkeley needs any more marketing on the “Free Speech Movement” please put it to rest and move on into the future. The 60+ crowd are the only ones who care about the FSM and the 1960′s and they are dying off. Berkeley REALLY needs to stop beating the “Free Speech” dead horse and re-brand themselves as something modern.

  • Freakshow

    Concerned,

    Please don’t judge me. You really don’t know anything about me. Although I don’t consider myself “Poor” I can say I am broke. There is a difference between the two. As a matter of fact, I have pondered such a perspective recently when my wife and I faced a huge medical issue. We had medical insurance and still were financially devastated. We are doing fine now, but we still have HUGE medical bills to pay off, hence we are broke. We are fortunate to have our health, but we are in a financial purgatory where we don’t make enough to pay our bills, yet we don’t “qualify” for programs. I do have a job and am making due, but for you to suggest that I am ignorant and I quote you, “where would you suggest poor people with vouchers and no cars live? Have you thought about such a perspective before?!

    It is beneficial for poor, disabled, not disabled, wealthy, etc to live near BART. (See Rockridge property values). I actually live in West Berkeley where our claim to fame is being on “America’s Most Wanted” for the gang murders with an AK-47 and then running over two people. I remember that evening very clearly, and so do my two children who were on lock down at their school. Our wonderful mayor, Tom Bates, solution to the violent crime problems in my neighborhood was to… “leave your porch light on”, so please save YOUR smugness and realize that you aren’t the only one with problems. If you look around and stop feeling sorry for yourself, you just might find some enlightenment.

    Don’t get me wrong, I do feel for the disabled, I have had disabled family members who have had tough times and tough lives and had to sift through the medical maze of red-tape. I remember when I was younger and my mother would get very frustrated and break-down over trying to help out.

    My first reaction to your comment is to tell you to F yourself, but I won’t do that, but realize that you aren’t the only person in this world with problems, I think everybody has some type of issue. Just enjoy the time you have in this world, because life is short, so enjoy it!

  • Bryan Garcia

    “I don’t think Berkeley needs any more marketing on the ‘Free Speech Movement’ please put it to rest and move on into the future. The 60+ crowd are the only ones who care about the FSM and the 1960′s and they are dying off. Berkeley REALLY needs to stop beating the ‘Free Speech’ dead horse and re-brand themselves as something modern.”

    I couldn’t agree with you more. The Baby Boomers need to GET OVER THEMSELVES and wake up to the fact that the 60′s are OVER.

    I wish the UC would finally get up the gumption to bulldoze that cesspool of a “park” and turn it into something useful.

  • Diane

    Good lord. What a massive, self-indulgent waste of time. He can stay up there all winter if he likes, it will accomplish nothing, except to reinforce the idea that People’s Park is filled with crazy people..

  • Max

    Keep it up, Zack, I love watching you make a fool out of yourself. Everything you do, from the 9-11 conspiracy banners to this stupid escapade, only reveal what a complete dolt you are, amid that cloud of pot smoke. But please take it elsewhere.

  • Moon rock

    Alright Zachary! We will defeat the 12-Galaxy interlopers who continue to deplete our flux-capacitor and rob us of our Boronic cadmeium! We will have to wait for them when they get back from the planet Zorhon. They better come back before 2012 when the great Jackel will rise up and restore the balance to the seminol yurt colonly of the neuronic matrix! Remember Zachary the great, “Fiat Lux”, when decoded into the centurion distal language means “Stop Driving”, so keep getting the message out! paint MORE SIGNS so that the Berkay dental society of the underlings can unite and help destroy the great army of Zoltar!

  • http://blognabbit.blogspot.com deirdre

    Moon rock: thanks for making me burst into laughter. I needed that.

  • The pic is not of Zachary Running Wolf

    The pic you have up is NOT of Zachary Running Wolf… the pic is of someone else.. I think his name is Matt and he was a supporter of the last tree sit.