Berkeley considers ‘visionary’ homeless housing project

City officials are considering the possibility of turning this parking lot into a supportive homeless housing complex. Image: Google Maps

City officials are considering the possibility of turning this parking lot into a supportive homeless housing complex. Image: Google Maps

Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council took its first steps at considering a “super-green affordable housing project” that would offer extensive services to the homeless on the site of what’s now a 112-spot parking lot at Berkeley Way and Henry Street.

The “innovative housing and services center with permanently supportive housing, along with emergency shelter and supportive services” would “meet a critical need, and help further the City’s goals to end homelessness,” according to a staff report from Tuesday’s meeting.

Members of the business community have expressed concerns about the loss of parking during construction, and said the parking supply would need to be doubled to ensure that visitors to downtown, who are expected to increase as the area is revitalized, will have access to readily available spots. They noted that decreased parking already in effect or planned, with the construction of the new Berkeley Art Museum and a proposal to demolish and rebuild the Center Street garage.

Council members Jesse Arreguín, Laurie Capitelli, Kriss Worthington and Linda Maio brought the issue up for discussion Tuesday night.

Arreguín called the parking issue “absolutely critical,” and said the city cannot afford to lose more parking downtown. But he said that challenge, and any others, can be addressed as the project moves forward.

At least 10 members of local religious institutions and homeless services organizations spoke in favor of the project Tuesday, saying that the need for better housing for the homeless is dire, and long overdue. They noted that, currently, many of the city’s homeless who seek shelter are forced to do so in a seismically unsafe building. (The emergency overnight men’s shelter at 1931 Center St., at the Veterans Memorial building, was declared unsafe following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, according to information included in Tuesday night’s staff report.)

Worthington described the project as “one of the most visionary and exciting things to come before the City Council in a decade.” He compared it to the Ed Roberts Campus and the David Brower Center in terms of its ambitious, service-oriented scope. Worthington said the Ed Roberts Campus was originally considered “an impossibility, but it’s there in the real world today,” and said the Brower Center, too was considered a pipe dream.

“Yes, all of these ideas are impossible in the ‘real world,’ but this is Berkeley and we can do it,” he said.

According to the staff report, “The most recent Berkeley specific homeless count in 2009 found over 800 homeless people in Berkeley, including 680 chronically homeless individuals. The City provides a variety of social services, but there is a critical need for additional emergency shelter and permanently supportive housing to help people transition out of homelessness.”

Mayor Tom Bates said it would be important to sort out the parking and financing issues prior to putting out a formal Request for Proposals related to the project. He estimated it could take $50 million to build the project in the end.

“I totally think it would be a great thing to happen: a shelter, services, 24-hour care… it’s something to aspire to,” he said. “But why would you start doing something if you could never afford to do it?”

Services, emergency shelter would be part of housing project

The City Council ultimately voted unanimously to look at the parking and financing issues first, with the goal of developing a Request for Proposals for the development of the site after those details are hashed out.

According to the staff report, “Given the scarcity of land to construct new affordable housing Downtown, the Berkeley Way site presents the best opportunity for a dedicated affordable housing project to serve the needs of the homeless in the Downtown area. Given its location a half block away from Shattuck Avenue, its proximity to public transit, and to a variety of social services that serve the homeless, the Berkeley Way site is a prime location for permanently supportive housing.”

Because this project is in its very initial stages, few details are available. The staff report notes the possibility of an emergency shelter on the ground floor, along with space on that level for administration, community space and supportive services. The project could include open space and “a building design that reflects the Buffer designation of the neighborhood and that incorporates set backs and other design features to address scale, compatibility, and solar access.”

The project could potentially be a “zero-net energy building,” as recommended by the Downtown Area Plan, and would be required to meet LEED Gold standards.

Council members discussed the possibility of two levels of on-site parking. The staff report notes that construction would need to be timed with other public parking projects so as to minimize negative impacts on the city’s parking supply.

Community members express enthusiasm and urgency

Craig Larsen, who developed 2054 University Ave., wrote a letter to the city about the project that said the loss of parking, even temporarily, would be “catastrophic” to businesses in the area. He also objected to the project as a whole, saying it’s a matter that would be better decided by the voters: “It is unconscionable to spend tax dollars on a controversial project such as this without a clear mandate from the taxpayers. The government must be charged with the responsibility to make life for its citizens better. This is a misguided attempt to solve a problem that is not capable of being resolved in this context.”

But that opinion was not much in evidence late Tuesday night.

One member of the clergy, from First Congregational Church of Berkeley, called the need for housing “urgent,” and said discussions about this type of housing project have been underway since 2009.

“It’s a moral issue,” she said. “People do not get clean on the street. They do not get their life together on the street. We have the capacity to make huge progress in this area in Berkeley.”

Another said that providing resources, services and a place to live would offer “a viable solution that actually improves whole communities.” She continued: “Your investment in this will be the glory of the city of Berkeley.”

Councilwoman Linda Maio, in her remarks, noted that it is “unconscionable” that many of the city’s homeless who seek shelter must sleep in a seismically unsafe building: “Every time I see, at the end of the day, people waiting to go into the shelter at night I’m really afraid.”

She said the financing for this type of project is rarely known in advance, and may come from a range of sources, including grants, loans and public campaigns.

“You never start out knowing where the money’s going to come from,” she said, adding that it’s important to simply get the ball rolling. “And I think that’s what this does…. With all of the issues we’re facing, we’re getting started.”

Related:
City to consider new approach to emergency shelters (09.05.13)
Parking losses, lane changes possible in Line 51 overhaul (08.26.12)
New talks on homelessness in Berkeley start Thursday (08.14.13)
goBerkeley parking rules get final public review (for now) (08.08.13)
Berkeley Food and Housing Project wins $1m grant (07.23.13)
Details unveiled on proposed metered parking changes (07.03.13)
Op-Ed: Berkeley needs a year-round youth shelter (05.30.13)
People’s Park focal point for countywide homeless count (02.01.13)
Berkeley moves towards a consensus homeless plan (01.31.13)
After Measure S failure, it’s time to act on homelessness (01.24.13)
Has it gotten harder to be homeless in Berkeley? (01.02.13)
Measure S: Will it help or hurt the homeless? (10.31.12)
Measure S: We can do better with civil sidewalks (09.19.12)

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  • Charles_Siegel

    I have got a life, and I don’t have time to take on the amount of work that you want to assign to me. I can imagine what the battle before the Housing Advisory Commission will be like.

    I will just observe that you seem to be guilty of the error that you are attributing to me: you seem to have made up your mind in advance that it is possible to build an emergency homeless shelter in a neighborhood in a way that does not impact the neighborhood.

    So, rather than taking on the assignment you give me, I will give you an assignment. You asked me

    “Do *all* shelters conform to the fear-inducing stereotypes you are
    bringing up or are there more successful models that this one might
    emulate?”

    I will ask you the same thing. If you can give me an example of an emergency shelter in a neighborhood, with statements from neighbors saying that does not impact the neighborhood, and I will take your comment seriously.

    (This comment has been moderated. –Eds.)

  • Jadedest

    I will make a couple of observations.

    First, the problem of how to take care of the “homeless”, and who should pay, is an ancient one. In medieval England there was continual bickering about one parish having to feed or house the poor who may have come from another parish, and also about the problem of “sturdy beggars”, who were quite similar to the young vagabond punks who are attracted to Berkeley. It was understood, through long experience, that an attempt to be generous with one’s poor could attract the poor from less generous places, and that the sturdy beggars were a different and more difficult sort of problem. Berkeley seems to be trying to defy all of these lessons, but things will only end up the same way they always have because, as many have pointed out, one locale will never have the resources to take care of the needy from all the other locales, and the sturdy beggars will defy attempts to turn them into productive members of society.

    Second, while the plan may make no sense for Berkeley as a whole, it can still make perfect sense for some people here, and for the politicians who listen to them. It seems obvious to me that the plan being floated here will be expensive, but that money will be spent here, on construction, salaries, and other things, and so there are many people who stand to benefit from funds spent by the city (Sinclair’s bon mot “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it” can apply here as well ). Consider all the money that was spent building the lavish animal shelter – you can bet that it helped out a lot of people who don’t have especially tender feelings for abandoned cats and dogs. All of the people who will make money on it, in one way or another, have good personal reasons to promote the homeless housing plan, and to lobby for it. Members of the City Council will be able to see many immediate advantages to helping those people, while the futility of the scheme will not be apparent for years. And if the problem just gets worse – well that means we need more capacity!

    What Berkeley needs, but sadly is very unlikely to get, is a clear definition of homelessness as distinguished from vagabondage, a clear picture of how many people who deserve and can benefit from assistance are actually of local origin, and a clear understanding of how these people can be helped. There are too many people who benefit from the confusion, and they have plenty of time to sow and grow confusion.

    As for the sturdy beggars, plenty of tactics have been tried: drive them out, jail them, put them to work, etc. None of them seem to work very well, but helping them to go elsewhere is generally the most expedient (for a hilarious example told from the vagabond’s point of view, see B. Traven’s “The Death Ship”).

  • Charles_Siegel

    and your ability to claim it will be different from others, given nearly no details, is also uncanny.

  • Hail Google Overlords!

    The tech money kids filling the luxury apartments are coming from SF, not the suburbs.

  • wages of economic segregation

    Not all but a decent number of what you call “sturdy beggers” are refugees of California’s failed foster system or, similarly, runaways from hellishly abusive homes. If you talk with them as opposed to just looking at them and conjuring up tropes from medieval England you find resourceful young people who have been through hell and who are today very much looking for employment, to complete their education, and to get up on their own feet and have a place to live. You can also learn from them how few services and employment opportunities are actually available for them. It’s not just them saying it, either. Service providers confirm that often the answer is “we don’t have much to help you right now”. The way things are in our society, if fate knocks you to the bottom, the ladder is too often out of reach.

    And yes, lots of localities have tried criminalizing these young people and clumsily showing them “tough love”. It gives them a pretty interesting perspective on the legitimacy of more privileged people.

  • Mrdrew3782

    “What about the servers, custodians, cashiers, and and other lower paid employees who work in Berkeley? Are they not equally, or more deserving of lower income housing?”

    They are more deserving then all the homeless that the city plans to house.

  • EricPanzer

    I respect your position FiatSlug, and I completely agree that Berkeley cannot solve this problem on its own.

    I take the controversial position that even as Berkeley strives to provide for these individuals, who are often in distress and desperate need, we should also take actions to mitigate the negative impacts of a large homeless population, such as by adopting Civil Sidewalks. My position has long been that compassion for the homeless means providing for their basic needs and respecting their dignity as human beings, while still placing reasonable limits on behaviors that are disruptive or otherwise negatively impact our public spaces.

    Every person for whom we provide shelter, food, or medical care is one more person whom we’ve protected from the elements, hunger, and ill health. Just because we can’t make a difference for everyone doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to make a difference for as many as we reasonably can. Determining what level of service is reasonable is as much a question of values as one of objective availability of resources, and there are no simple answers. Nevertheless, just saying we can’t possibly solve the whole problem is not in and of itself an argument against doing more.

    I wish dearly that homeless advocacy in Berkeley and the Bay Area in general could reframe the discussion of homeless issues. We need to move away from our fixation on what someone has a right to do in our public spaces and instead focus on harm reduction. So much of the opposition I see here is based, rightly or wrongly, on negative perception of the homeless. Questions of empathy (or the lack thereof) aside, it makes me wonder how much more willing people would be to provide for the homeless population if they felt assured that street behavior was better managed.

  • guest

    Adding huge new services immediately after civil sidewalk laws have failed is a recipe for disaster.

  • Name

    hard to look for employment when you are laying on the sidewalk all day with your aggressive pit bulls

  • no good answer to bigotry

    It depends on your religion and race, really.

  • Jadedest

    I am not sure if you are one of the beneficiaries of the confusion, or one of its hapless (or willing) victims, but please consult my penultimate paragraph above. Your description of the young people hanging around on Berkeley sidewalks as “resourceful young people who have been through hell and who are today very much looking for employment, to complete their education, and to get up on their own feet and have a place to live”, and your contemptuous dismissal of the points I am making, are a neat example of the rhetoric used in Berkeley to sow confusion around this issue.

  • guest

    Don’t let your hunger for clarity around an issue spoil your appetite for truth.

  • Guest

    Are you honestly denying that there are people exactly like hanging out on the streets of Berkeley?

  • FiatSlug

    The problem with attacking the problem of homelessness is that there are several facets that complicate the issue. Indeed, one of those problems is that mental health is such a huge component that we really don’t know just how much it affects the overall issue of homelessness.

    As you have noted, street behavior impacts how others perceive the problem. I share this perspective and have come to believe that the homelessness problem will be much easier to tackle if we can only get a handle on mental health issues in the United States. If the mentally ill can be removed from the streets and into treatment, then the homelessness problem will have new, smaller dimensions. than what it has now. It might also make it possible to look at homelessness as a problem that can be tackled and invigorate communities to do just that.

    The other problem is that while Berkeley is remarkably compassionate many other communities do not share the same commitment or the same level of compassion towards homeless folks. That affects their willingness to tackle the problem not only within their borders, but also as part of a larger whole or region. It also means that many Berkeleyans are largely preaching to the choir on the issue while other Berkeleyans have become simply tired of the issue; it’s pervasive, ubiquitous, and it’s a real downer to living in Berkeley.

    Again, I come back to my earlier point: Berkeley cannot solve the problem on its own. There must be a much larger effort involving state and local governments throughout the state. We must tackle the big components that make up the issue of homelessness as a regions, as a state, before we can identify the smaller issues, or even deal with the smaller issues.

  • Truth Sayer

    I can not agree with you more. We can agree that many homeless people are mentally ill; and are in need of shelter. However, my previous experience of working with many homeless through a charity showed me that many are not mentally ill; do not, and will not do any work; and they look forward to the drug of choice rather than contributing to their own support. On the other hand, a larger portion of low wage servers, and others, are hard working (many with college degrees) who will provide a better return on taxpayers investment; and they will maintain the property. In short, this small city need to make some tough choices. Truth be told, it does not have the financial resource to care for all the homeless that were given bus passes from eastern cities every winter.

  • John Panzer

    I was homeless, you calling me a rat?

    October 6, 2013

    Nuveen Investments, Inc.
    333 W. Wacker Drive
    Chicago, IL 60606

    Dear Nuveen Investments:

    I believe
    the municipal bond offering listed in your, “Nuveen High Yield Municipal Bond
    Fund,” purchased on 8/30/2013 listed in your holdings excel spread sheet as
    BERKELEY CNTY ET AL CDR SCAT SITE PJS .10 $8,000,000 $87.27 $6,981,280.00 5.75 6.73 WV Municipal Housing/Multifamily NR NR 12/01/2044

    Belongs to the Cityof Berkeley, California, collateralized with HUD section 8 housing vouchers meant for homeless and low income people, not Berkeley, West Virginia as the“WV,” in the “State,” field of your spread sheet indicates. I’m sure it’s an honest mistake.

    I’m not a big fan of reverse floaters myself, while I would certainly love a 7% return on municipal bonds and with this price discount price of $87 these shares might pay $100 when do, or defeased depending on the structure of the derivative which is a 13% return, minus costs of course. Lets talk about the costs. Gambling on municipal bonds to fail, by splitting the offering for two opposing outcomes “derived,” from the same bond, is the mechanism that brought us this great recession – derivatives.

    Structured finance isn’t quantum mechanics and there’s nothing complex about these so called “complex transactions” bond councils use to justify public benefit
    with zoning easements and tax breaks to issue municipal bonds and use the money for private construction that’s sold as affordable housing but not completed or operated that way. There is no binding contract language to operate a single
    square foot as affordable housing for anyone with income less than one
    gazillion dollars for more than about 15 minutes. I can’t find the CUSIP # I’m
    tired. I had it here somewhere on a piece of paper, but I’m not a legal firm
    I’m one guy. I think Bohaus, my imaginary dog ate it. Forgive me I’m merely a
    half dead homo with HIV, and formerly homeless addict serving on Berkeley’s
    Homeless Commission wondering why we have people living in doorways when we have 75 city owned homes we used as affordable housing we’re selling to the
    developer with the money we’re giving him from this bond. OK, so they need a
    little work; $137,000 per unit in construction costs plus $207,000 per unit to
    purchase – what’s Stephen Billionaire what’s his face at Related Real Estate
    building, Versailles for homeless people?

    I watched a homeless man set up a cardboard box to sleep in on the sidewalk,
    and a police car roared up to shoo him away. But it wasn’t a cop, it was the
    Appraiser from City Hall calculating how much we could borrow from the bank if
    we called his box affordable housing. Of course we’ll have to evict him,
    purchase, upgrade and flip it. Don’t laugh, our new federal mandatory zoning
    requirement for a zoned homeless shelter without the citizens of my town
    allowed to have any say in, is already in the local newspaper as the new
    gazillion dollar penthouses on Berkeley Way that will include a Homeless
    Shelter. Yeah right. Not since the Titanic went down with the steerage
    passengers locked behind gates as first class ran to the lifeboats have we
    dared subsidize such an opulent ship. At least a housing project on land won’t
    sink with our tired, our poor, the huddled masses yearning to be free, of
    economic in-se-cur-i-ty. Ring a bell? “The wretched refuse of your teeming shore?
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.” It’s the poem on the Statue of
    Liberty; we’re not big on education and poetry anymore but this country loves a
    good derivative, or the wealthy do, the rest of us, not so much.

    I’m sure this offering is ours. The California Debt Limit Allocation Committee September 18, 2013 staff report, agenda item 9.12 Application number 13-076 that I found on-line (we homeless don’t only smoke crack and watch porn) lists the details of the Applicant as California Municipal Finance Authority, for the project listed as “Berkeley Scattered Site Housing.” The “Description of Financial Structure and Bond Issuance,” Detail Tranche A and
    Tranche B. Quite obviously Tranche B matches the details of our offering and your purchse to add to your fund. (On behalf of the homeless citizens of Berkeley I would like to thank you for your business, we’re pan handling change to save up for a credit default swap to but these back) My On-line research of course, is dependent upon what’s revealed, and my only source for this claim and correction. These documents are suspect, often look mismatched more like puzzle pieces scattered about with mistakes. I apologize, if I have this wrong, and Berkeley County West Virginia also has a bond issued for the same amount or Berkeley South Carolina with similar project names and purposes which might be the source of your purchase, as listed. In that case, Please disregard this letter, and thank you for your patience.

    The other thing I don’t love about reverse floaters which might not exist or be
    sold yet on this bond, but our offering is designed to offer them, is that
    they essentially let you collateralize a new issue from an existing bond to pay
    the share holders of bonds that are coming due. Securities that can be defeased (which means paid off early, for the guy here that calls homeless people like me, rats, anonympously of course),will often carry a lower yield than comparable securities, as the option to retire the debt early favors the issuer and caps the potential investment return for the bondholder. However, for a risk averse investor, this feature proves beneficial because it lowers the default risk of the security. It just occurs to me I’m telling this to an Investment Firm that know this, sorry. But
    municipal bonds are no longer issued on a municipality’s ability to pay. The
    banks don’t believe in America’s full faith and credit of our cities and towns
    anymore and require more and more municipal bonds collateralized with our
    town hall, and senior center, and theater or they won’t fund them. City
    Council’s all over America are doing it as the result of Government shut downs,
    and tax cuts that have defunded our democracy leaving our cities and towns
    trying to pay honest bills by playing venture capitalists and day traders with
    our town’s assets on the municipal bond market.

    I love it when people say, “Its just politics,” or all these financial transactions and wealth are “just on paper.” Tell that to the people that got turned out of their homes and/or denied their section 8 housing, that are in my doorway tonight at 1797 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, California, 94709. I’m in a subsidized unit supported by HUD’s Shelter Plus Care, The City of Berkeley’s residents and City Council, and a wonderful landlord. These 100 units were built under the delicate balance that was Inclusionary Zoning, now dead, just a few weeks ago with passage of California’s AB1229, which allow my town to force a developer to pay a mitigation fee in lieu of offering affordable housing units he can’t build
    anyway due to overregulation. I feel bad for the developers that even try. I
    was raised in a small old school farming town with the New England family ethic, “We work for what we have.” I live in humiliation as man being too sick to work -full-time to support myself. I live on your tax dollars, the least I can say is thank you, and I am grateful for the support, but I know how to live homeless, do you?

    Thank god for the Palmer case in Los Angeles. That decision didn’t threaten
    inclusionary zoning, it put an end to the lie of mitigation fees in lieu of
    setting aside 6 units in a 65 unit housing project for low income people who
    get to pay a little less. Palmer took the contract with the choice, so they
    thought, to pay $600,000 back to Los Angeles, or build the units and offer them
    with subsidies like mine for people like me, wise-ass punks that talk too much
    for someone that doesn’t have a job. Palmer tried to build the units and
    couldn’t due to the City of LA’s own competing regulations. The court found the
    mitigation fee wasn’t voidable to build the units – Los Angeles made building
    those units impossible and tried to pretend they didn’t know so they could collect
    that $600,000 and do whatever they wanted with it.

    Here’s the thing, I’m not trying to transfer blame to local government from a
    business man trying to build housing and include a few units for someone like me.
    This isn’t going to have me proclaimed a hero; no one is in love with the
    homeless and giving us your hard earned dollars in benefits by choice. Inclusionary Zoning was a very delicate balance where everyone had some benefits, and everyone sacrificed a little, and 33,000 units got built that way in California alone, and those section 8 vouchers are looking valuable with their guaranteed income, and all it takes is one party to fuck it up by having to take it all! Thank you LA City Council. All AB1229 does is buy time before the Municipal bond market collapses. AB1229 makes the affordable housing units in the Inclusionary Zoning ordinances these municipal bonds are sold on, optional to build, which disposes of the Palmer decision’s contract voidability issue, and keeps the mitigation fees flowing from the developer, to the City and new back out to the developer, to service debt, and not even build new projects, but advertise them (like this article in Berkeleyside, The City Council is very far along, don’t be fooled, they have a $25,0000,000 bond issue for Berkeley Way approved through the California Municipal Finance Authority they have to get issued – they need that cash to pay the bond holders coming due in December. Marry Christmas!) and they need to get them issued, sold and converted into loans to their Developers, before the municipal bond market collapses. They are trying to build fast enough and stack new issues on top of each other to pay the last one, got surprised with the housing crash in 2008 and the stupid pension promises made to Unions for votes that Cal-Pers can’t pay and now come out of every town’s general funds, which are also used as collateral for bonds to pay the pension promises. See the bubble?

    Credit don’t blame the brilliant Cisco Devries for engineering the first PACE financing municipal bond project to raise capital he lent to homeowners for installation of residential Solar panels right here in Berkeley, while Chief of Staff to Mayor Tom Bates. The tax break was attached to the home as was a little property tax assessment to service the bond debt, which balanced for the homeowner, and energy cost savings of the solar installation balanced the transaction the homeowner could leverage into the upfront capital purchase of the Solar Installation with a loan from the city provided through the bond, the Solar equipment collateralized the loan between the homeowner and the city. It worked so well, Cisco was shaking hands with the president, and Tom Bates had another idea.

    Pretending you love affordable housing and claiming you’re building it, as you
    make excuses for your own bureaucracy as the reason those units can’t be
    built, while you sell your city owned stock of affordable housing as is the case here in Berkeley – is not just evil, it holds you liable. No city council member in America cares if I call them evil. They are afraid of another word. Liable. (This
    paragraph isn’t really working grammatically. The sentences aren’t well
    structured into single complete ideas. if I tried handing this in as a paper
    for my Public Policy – Poverty and Inequality class at the Goldman School of
    Public Policy on the Campus of UC Berkeley where I am a grateful student at 8
    units per semester, a reduced course load because of my health and on scholarship which means your tax dollars and again I thank you for that, I would get a bad grade. I can see why we need Municipal Bonds with at 7% return and I guess we’re going to have give homeless people some blankets if I want to go to Berkeley on Scholarship, now that I’m a 1%’er. I’m an expensive endeavor to you, the taxpayer)

    You will have to forgive my sarcasm, run-on sentences, and poor history of
    moral character as author of this letter, in lieu of well-manicured
    communication. I’m scared. This letter isn’t about my behavior; it’s about a
    bond issue, listed as belonging to Berkeley, West Virginia, that I think
    belongs to Berkeley, California, and I think its more than a little mistake and I’m sure I’ll pay a price for this letter and expect my own public benefits will disappear to cuts sooner rather than later, and I’ll be forgotten and gone. But I’ll go back to the street still believing in America, and Democracy.

    Democracy is the right system of controls on Capitalism for the greater good, Dr. Reich said in my Wealth and Poverty class last semester at UC Berkeley. Not
    like the brazen giant of Greek fame, with conquering limbs astride from land to
    land; here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand, a mighty woman with a
    torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles.
    From her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command the
    air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. “Keep ancient lands, your
    storied pomp!” cries she with silent lips.

    With all best wishes,

    John Alfred Panzer

    CC’s:
    Berkeley City Council, Phil Bronstein at the San Francisco Chronicle, City Data
    Services, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

  • John Panzer

    Really? I’m a formerly homeless person. Enlighten us if you will as to how Berkeley draws chronically homeless from elsewhere, I’m not aware of that nor does it makes an sense. How would homeless people know about this land of plenty and how would they get here?

  • John Panzer

    Yeah right, we homeless people have a very organized network that distributes Planning Commission minutes we are all required to read or we’re not allowed to smoke crack and be homeless anymore. From this information which is the top priority over smoking crack and eating we discuss the potential of each homeless shelter, in every state in the country with astounding accuracy, then we beg for change to buy high yield municipal bond funds, we then credit default swap to finance our travel to Berkeley, with other homeless people doing the same thing. Yeah we’re amazingly organized and share information that reaches all over the country we communicate via cell phone and mail, very dependably. Word gets about the fabulous life waiting for us and by the time we get Berkeley, we’re a half a million strong? Is this what you’re telling me?

  • John Panzer

    This is the dumbest discussion I’ve ever witnessed, and I’m a homeless person. We are from Berkeley, This idea you have that our benefits for the homeless attract more homeless is hilarious. here’s a tip: Stay empirically grounded in your claims and evidence, that way you don’t sound like a homeless person, like most of you do, here.