Best of Berkeleyside: This week’s most popular posts

UC Berkeley's Helios building at sunset by Derrick Coetzee

UC Berkeley’s Helios building at sunset by Derrick Coetzee

Three stories this week evoked a lot of discussion about the state of Berkeley. One was a map outlining the gap between Berkeley’s gap between rich and poor, one detailed new library policies that might significantly affect the homeless, and the other was an Opininator piece by Charles Siegel on widening the sidewalks on the south side of Bancroft Avenue. The map story generated many comments, but not necessarily what might have been expected. There was little outrage that some households  – particularly in the hills – had a much higher income than those in the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Instead, people seemed proud of the gulf because it showed the economic diversity of the city, which makes Berkeley an interesting place to live.

The “Ask Berkeleyside,” story about whether it is getting harder to be homeless since the defeat of Measure S, the proposal to ban sitting on sidewalks in commercial districts, also prompted a lot of commentary. Some people were outraged at the library’s new policy restricting the amount of stuff people could bring inside. They pointed out how hard it is to keep possessions  safe when one has no fixed abode. Others thought that the public library is not a homeless shelter but serves all of the residents of Berkeley. While they expressed sympathy for the homeless, they wanted them to maintain a certain level of civility, which means not overstepping their personal space by spreading around their gear.

Now that UC Berkeley is doing a major overhaul of Lower Sproul Plaza (which will include the destruction of Eshelman Hall) Charles Siegel suggested the sidewalks across the street on Bancroft be widened to allow for more café seating and better pedestrian flow. He pointed to the success of Center Street as an example. Most readers seemed to think his suggestions were good ones? Is anyone in the Planning Department thinking about this?

The stabbing death in Oakland of 26-year old Berkeley resident Jessica Kingeter by a five-time felon was shocking in its brutality. Readers were flabbergasted that Jamaal Prince, 34, of Berkeley, was back on the streets after serving time for threatening to kill his mother. It turns out that not all felonies count towards California’s Three Strikes law. In this case, the law’s nuances were deadly.

We hear many different reasons why people read Berkeleyside: to keep up with the news, to marvel at the work of the extraordinary photographers who contribute to the site, to enter the fray of the comments. If you value Berkeleyside, please donate or subscribe. Your support will help us continue to improve our coverage of Berkeley.


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  • PragmaticProgressive

    While I understand that this is a high-level summary and hence not a quantified study of reader opinions, I’d like to point out that the “some say; others thought” dualism does a little violence to the truth when it isn’t accompanied by some indication of relative weight. Looking at the number of votes on the topics you’ve covered, I think there are pretty strong skews in the distribution of popular opinion on these issues, at least as reflected here. On the homeless/library question in particular, I see an overwhelming tilt in favor of the new policies — so much so that I would characterize it as “most commenters agreed with the library’s stance, while a few impassioned readers raised objections….”

  • NoName

    Well I read the comment summaries, but it was a waste of time. On the comments I followed, it was much less accurate than reading the actual comments, and on those I didn’t follow it was just as boring as the issues I didn’t want to read about, and of now questionable accuracy.

  • Guest

    The hills vs. flats is more of an economic apartheid than a celebration of diversity. The people in the flats aren’t here to me the rich folks in the hills feel good about “choosing” to expose their kids to a bigger swath of humanity by not moving to Danville or Atherton. Usually I check into Berkeleyside when there’s been a shooting or other horrible crime outside my door. I wonder if the people who congratulated themselves for their role in the wealth map are similar news consumers?

  • Anonymous

    I see anoverwhleming tilt amongst Berkeleyside comments in general as being more conservative than, I believe, the residents of Berkeley in general. As support for my statement, I point out that commentators at B’side seemed strongly in favor of the No-Site measure but that measure was defeated.

    This is hardly a scientific or precise measure of the sentiments of Berkeley and Berkeleyside is surely allowed to write and publish their own assessment, however it might disagree with yours.

    Folks in comments often act like they have a right to edit Berkeyside. Berkeleyside offers a generously open forum. Berkeleyside gets to have its own opinions. I am steadily amazed by the nitpicking pedantics in these comments.

    Aslo, very few human beings actually participated in commentary on the library policy changes, and the comments hardly reflected anything approaching an accurate, or statistically relevant snapshot of how Berkeley feels. Believe it or not, quite a lot of Berkeley residents don’t read Berkeleyside so a snapshot of Berkeleyside comments does not represent the city.

    Anytime something gets published that you, Pragmatic seem to disagree with, you weigh in. Yeah, I weight in passionately about the homeless-in-the-library. And ya know what? I am willing to bet that a majority of Berkeley citizens, as opposed to a tiny group of B-side commentators, were to weight in on the new library poilicies, a majority of Berkeley residents would be just as disappointed as I am. Not to mention Christians who actually espouse Jesus Christ’s teachings.

    Yes, there was an overwhelming tilt, as you so manipulatively put it, in the comments here in favor of a regressive, oppressive treatment of homeless people seeking to use the PUBLIC library. Identify the pool of commentators. Berkeyside commentators seem to skew wealthy, pro-business-over-civil rights, pro-high-rises over quality of life, conservative for Berkeley Caifornia. This is not a scientific measure of Berkeley residents’ opinions and you don’t direct the politices of Berkeleyside, do you? If you do, disclose that relationship.

  • Anonymous

    So you are saying just about nothing but still managing to criticize others for being boring. And you do so anonymously. Real nice. I am posting anonymous to make a point, not to hide who I am. The most acerbic commentators at Bside post behind fake names. Why, NoName, do you think your comment was worth writing, much less being read?

  • PragmaticProgressive

    Anonymous? C’mon Tizzlish — that’s obviously you.

    And, true to form, you’ve missed the point. Berkeleyside wasn’t describing the sentiment of the city at large. This write up was a summary of the comments on Berkeleyside and I have accurately characterized the leanings in those comments as being overwhelmingly opposed to your view. It wasn’t even close.

    I could go on pointing out the numerous other flaws in your reasoning, but I’ve got work to do. Have a nice day.

  • Guest

    Seriously. So what if Berkeleyside comments run towards conservative? If you don’t like that then don’t post here. Simple.

  • The Sharkey

    On what planet is favoring rules that keep people from bringing unwieldy/disruptive objects into a public library considered “conservative?”

    In case you didn’t realize it, “conservative” isn’t analogous with “things I don’t like.”

  • BerkeleyFarm

    As a meta-note, this comment is pure comedy gold. “It’s different when I do it!”

  • Berkeleyfarm

    Nah, that’s not the solution. What they, like everyone else here, need to
    do is make their case with facts and logic and avoid the name-calling/smears/straining to take offense.
    The constant indulging in name-calling by some people makes me think they’re not
    interested in actually getting stuff done and just want to make themselves feel
    good (by ginning up some “”persecution”” for themselves). It’s the lefty
    version of Faux Snooze’s general MO and a logical fallacy that’s been documented
    for centuries.

    “”Conservative”” itself in this context is definitely one of those Only In
    Berkeley type things (thus the double scare quotes). I think most of the commenters being tarred with that
    brush would be classified as centrist or center-left by “best practices”
    quantification methods.

    Personally I think that the far-left anti-development wing is extremely
    conservative (and I grew up in what’s now Teapartylandia) because they don’t want ANYTHING to change (from the
    sixties/seventies heyday). Reminds me of one of my standard “church”
    lightbulb jokes (which I tell with different denominations, usually my own,
    depending on audience):

    How many does it take to change a

    One to change it and at least one to run around complaining “HOW DARE YOU!