Author Archives: Guest contributor
Do storage lockers magically appear on Tom Bates’ order? Do angels from on high descend with public restrooms on Linda Maio’s wish? Is it common for shower facilities to construct themselves from piping and tile without human intervention?
If you answered “yes” to these questions then you’ve entered the mindset of the Berkeley City Council majority — who last week voted to criminalize homeless people’s behavior while invoking the humanitarian fairy to do what they claim they want to … Continue reading »
On July 1, 2014, the recently retired Director of Public Works, Andrew Clough, gave a somber presentation to City Council on the condition of facilities in Berkeley.
The information report accompanying his presentation stated the following:
“During the past 25 years, the City has deferred maintenance on many City buildings, decreasing the value of the assets and diminishing the utility of the buildings for City programs.”
The report went on to state (in bold):
“To reiterate: at the current funding levels maintenance, … Continue reading »
It felt great to return to Berkeley recently after two weeks in Brazil without robberies, accidents, or mishaps. But when we arrived just blocks from our home, we were greeted with an unsavory welcome: our cars had vanished from the North Berkeley street where we parked them.
They hadn’t been stolen. They had been towed. Why? A neighbor, upset that her “usual spot” on a city street was occupied by an unknown car, called the police. Just like that, we … Continue reading »
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates was quoted on Channel 7 News as saying, “It’s not an effort to criminalize people, it’s an effort to try to make things more civil.”
Yet the new homeless ordinance that passed 6-3 early Wednesday – nearly one week before Thanksgiving Day – does in fact criminalize the homeless and poor in Berkeley. It prohibits specific acts associated with being homeless, disabled and mentally ill in Berkeley, which include the following:
Placing personal belongings in … Continue reading »
Time and again, Berkeley voters have made it clear that they reject the criminalization of the homeless, many of whom are veterans suffering from mental trauma and LGBT youth kicked out of their homes because of who they love.
Do you think these people should be considered criminals simply for living in our community? I don’t. There are real solutions to get many of Berkeley’s homeless off the streets and on the road to a better life.
What some of … Continue reading »
It is zero hour for the defense of the right of homeless people in Berkeley to simply be.
This Tuesday, Mayor Bates and Council members Maio, Droste, and Capitelli are proposing, for the nth time in 25 years, to add new status offenses to the docket. These new “crimes” will result in fines and jail time. While the City cannot explicitly ban poor people or homelessness, it will outlaw actions that are symptomatic of these conditions, such as owning … Continue reading »
I’ve been a resident of Berkeley for the last decade, and there is no doubt the homeless problem is getting worse, despite the best efforts of our elected officials.
Both of my elementary school-age children and I have been verbally and physically threatened in the last month walking to school or on our way to College Avenue. Neighbors have shared their frustration at leaving home in the morning and finding human feces in their driveway. Reports of aggressive behavior and … Continue reading »
Stanley O. Franks: April 16, 1953-Nov. 9, 2015
Stanley Franks, son of Nagoster Franks Sr. and Georgia Dunn, was the youngest of eight siblings. Born and raised in southwest Berkeley, he attended Longfellow Elementary School, Berkeley West Campus Middle School, Berkeley High School, Laney College and San Jose State University where he pursued a degree in music and education.
Growing up, Stanley worked with his grandfather, Kermit Coleman, selling sweet potatoes and melons in the neighborhood. Over the course of his life, … Continue reading »
Criminalizing homelessness is not a Berkeley value, nor is turning away those who have nowhere else to go. Sadly, unless more communities come to embrace our values, Berkeley will continue to shoulder a disproportionate share of the regional and national homelessness crisis. Unable to end homelessness on our own, how can Berkeley balance being a compassionate host with “house rules” that keep our city safe and livable?
The quality of our public spaces and the basic dignity of homeless individuals … Continue reading »
Developers would like to be able to tear down perfectly fine rent controlled buildings and replace them with fancy apartments for dot-com commuters.
On Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council will be deciding whether to allow a developer to tear down a rent-controlled building at 2631 Durant Ave. that was relatively affordable housing for students until last year.
One problem: our current Demolition Ordinance says you can’t tear down rent controlled units, ever, unless they are pretty much uninhabitable, and unless their loss is mitigated by replacing them with permanently affordable units. Apparently, the Zoning Board (ZAB) decided that law doesn’t apply to 2631 Durant. … Continue reading »
In the debate about increasing the minimum wage to $15, or even $19 (as Berkeley’s Labor Commission has recommended), one important issue has not received the attention it deserves. Namely, what happens to the wages of employees who had been earning $15/hour before the increase in the minimum wage?
In the absence of regulations, the hourly wage for a job is generally related to the skills required to do the job. Jobs that currently pay $15/hour require more skills than … Continue reading »
Have you heard the news about bacon? The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has released a study providing evidence that processed meat such as bacon is carcinogenic to humans and fresh red meat is probably carcinogenic. Add this to the list of environmental, animal welfare and health-related reasons we should reduce our consumption of meat and other animal products and it’s clear – it’s time to cut back!
Fortunately, there’s a movement underway and, not surprisingly, … Continue reading »
By Margit Stange
“Patient No More: People with Disabilities Securing Civil Rights,” a multi-media exhibit, is as bold and engaging as the historical movement it documents.
On April 5, 1977, disability rights protesters marching on San Francisco’s federal building spontaneously transformed a sit-in into a 26-day occupation, achieving the longest sit-in of a federal office building to date. Four years earlier, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 made it illegal for federally funded facilities or programs to discriminate against disabled people. But Joseph Califano, Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), withheld his signature, blocking implementation of Section 504. By 1977, angered and impatient, a coalition of activists launched protests across the country.
San Francisco’s occupation of the HEW Building at 50 United Nations Plaza became the focal point of the protest. Enduring hardships, deprivations and medical risks, the occupiers dug in, finally emerging to join an April 30, 1977, victory rally after Secretary Califano signed the 504 regulations unchanged. … Continue reading »