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Op-ed: Berkeley Mayor, councilman offer solution to city’s need for more affordable housing

The Aquatic mixed-use development at 800 University Ave. in Berkeley could open by summer 2015. Image: Trachtenberg Architects
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In an op-ed published Monday on Berkeleyside, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates and Laurie Capitelli, a member of the Berkeley City Council representing District 5, offer a solution to what they say is currently an imperfect approach to securing affordable housing in the city.

Their proposal — which is on tonight’s City Council agenda – is to create a “city density bonus” which would see developers who want to build housing pay a fee into the Housing Trust Fund.

“The developers would gain more units and the community would gain more affordable housing,” they say. … Continue reading »

Op-eds: Schools, libraries, parks — and what price water?

Is it right that water costs Berkeleyans just one xx a gallon no matter how much we use, asks Neal Eckard in an op-ed published on Berkeleyside this month. Photo: Steve Johnson
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This month is not over but Berkeleyside has already published several op-eds of note in its Opinionator section.

Two tackle Berkeley’s parks and facilities. Diz Swift says it’s time for a coherent plan to maintain city facilities. “We need priorities and the realization that maybe we can’t afford to keep it all. If we just go on like this, our beautiful public spaces will gradually decay,” she writes.

Meanwhile, Isabelle Gaston questions why the increase in the amount spent on parks in Berkeley is not proportional to the increase spent on salaries, benefits and running the city. “Why are clubhouses, public swimming pools and senior centers routinely being closed in Berkeley — one of the richest cities and most highly taxed in all of California?” she asks. … Continue reading »

Op-eds: On park maintenance and misallocated budgets

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In the past few days, Berkeleyside has published two opinion pieces focused on the city’s parks and spending.

Diz Swift, a Berkeley public works commissioner, argued last week that Berkeley does not have the money to maintain all of the city’s parks and other facilities. There is an urgent need, Swift writes, to write “an over-arching, coherent plan for maintaining city facilities.”

“We’re very good at building new things,” Swift writes, “but then we neglect to remember we have to have funds to maintain them. Maintenance just isn’t very ‘sexy.'” … Continue reading »

Op-eds: On soda tax, accessory units, and homelessness

A "family" of homeless youth in Berkeley. Photo: Keith Chastain
Homeless youth in Berkeley: two op-ed pieces published recently on Berkeleyside address the recent vote by City Council to tackle the impact of homelessness. Photo: Keith Chastain
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In the past few days Berkeleyside has published several opinion pieces worth highlighting.

Robert Reich, Laurie Capitelli and Dr. Vicki Alexander put their names collectively to an op-ed in which they argue that, while Berkeley may have passed a historic soda tax in November, the campaign has not ended for Big Soda. “Having spent over $2 million (almost $50 per voter!) during the campaign, Big Soda has embarked on a campaign to discredit Measure D even before it has a chance to take effect,” they write, citing as an example concerns expressed by soda distributors in an article published on Berkeleyside. Read the full op-ed in our Opinionator section. … Continue reading »

Op-ed: Let Albany follow Berkeley’s lead for its waterfront

An aerial view of the Albany Bulb. Photo: CLUI
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The City of Berkeley made the right decision, back in the early ’60s, when it planned its waterfront for mixed-use development, says naval architect Paul Kamen.

Now Albany is considering the future of its own waterfront, and one proposal on the table is to keep it as open space, parkland and protected habitat, with no commercial, recreational or maritime facilities.

That would be a huge mistake, argues Kamen in an op-ed published by Berkeleyside in its Opinionator section, in which he offers a detailed comparison of the two waterfront areas and outlines the key questions that need to be addressed.   … Continue reading »

Op-ed: Racist slights are alive and well in Berkeley

Gibor Basri and Jessica Broitman hike Claremont Canyon every morning
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Gibor Basri and Jessica Broitman, who have been married for more than 40 years, live in Berkeley. As a mixed-race couple — Basri is Jamaican/Iraqi/Jewish and Broitman is Caucasian/Jewish — they have seen firsthand how the world treats them differently because of their different skin tones.

In an op-ed published by Berkeleyside today, Basri and Broitman offer their response to the recent incident documented by local comedian W. Kamau Bell who said he was subject to racism at the Elmwood Café.

Citing examples from their own experience, the couple details how racism can pervade everyday life, even in Berkeley, and argues that we can all be guilty of bias, whether it’s conscious or unconscious. … Continue reading »

Op-ed: Berkeley cannabis club Forty Acres is a nightmare

Forty Acres cannabis collective is on the second floor of 1820-1828 San Pablo Ave. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Last week, after nearly four years of wrangling, the City Council declared the Forty Acres Medical Marijuana Growers Collective at 1820-1828 San Pablo Ave. a nuisance. The city has ordered Forty Acres and its owner, Chris Smith, to remove all cannabis-related material from the premises by today. Berkeley plans to inspect the premises on Jan. 29.

Carol Denney lives near Forty Acres and in this Opinionator piece, she argues that the medical cannabis club has not been a good neighbor. She also expresses concern that some city councilmembers made “supportive noises” recently to help the club remain in its current location. Denney says that because of rude customers, blocked driveways, persistent and pervasive marijuana smoke, that should not happen. Add your voice in the comments section of the op-ed.Continue reading »

Berkeley Zoning Board considers community benefits of proposed downtown high-rise

2211 Harold Way. Image: MVEI Architecture and Planning
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As Berkeley officials grappled with what the concept of “community benefits” actually means, the developer of the 18-story high rise at 2211 Harold Way announced at a Jan. 8 meeting of the Zoning Adjustments Board that he is willing to financially assist both the Habitot Children’s Museum and Boss, (Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency) as well as other organizations who must  relocate when the building is constructed.

Joseph Penner, head of Hill Street Investments of Los Angeles, also announced that Landmark Theaters had redesigned its plans for new theaters in the complex. There will now be nine theaters instead of the six theaters previously announced. Landmark has decided it will no longer include stadium seating in the theaters, which frees up room for additional theaters. (There are currently 11 theaters in the Shattuck Cinema complex.) … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: How does Berkeley decide which streets to fix?

The new permeable pavers project on Allston Way allows rainwater to be absorbed into the ground instead of running into gutters and out into the bay. The demonstration project cost about $1.3 million. Berkeley's Street Audit helps the city determine which streets to repair. Photo: Larry Henry
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Many people in Berkeley wonder how the city decides which streets to repair. Why is this street full of potholes untouched, while that street over there that feels pretty smooth gets a fresh coat of slurry?

In an Opinionator piece published on Berkeleyside, Berkeley City Auditor Ann-Marie Hogan explains how her office’s 2011 Streets Audit has helped the city decide which streets to repair first, a program that has the potential to save millions of dollars. … Continue reading »

Op-eds: Berkeley seniors, Citizen United, Measures D, R

Downtown Berkeley, May 2014. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Opinion pieces keep on rolling in to Berkeleyside, although the pace has slowed since election day. All of them are published in our Opinionator section.

Four recent op-eds tackle a range of subjects.

Xavier Morales, executive director of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, applauds Berkeley for passing Measure D, the so-called soda tax measure, and says that for Latinos and African Americans, who suffer disproportionately the ravages of diabetes, heart disease and stroke, “this win inspires hope.”

Zach Franklin says he’s thrilled that Measure R, the downtown initiative, was defeated, but urges us to build on the momentum, and “get serious about addressing the massive housing shortage in our community that is hitting working families hard.”

Judy Turiel, a Berkeley resident who served for eight years on the the city’s Commission on Aging, argues for more voices in the discussion about priorities for Berkeley’s older population. … Continue reading »

Op-eds: Measures D, R, F, Berkeley High Rally Day, Prop O

Rally Day in 2012, the last one to happen after it was canceled due to what the district said was
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Opinion pieces keep on rolling in to Berkeleyside as we get closer to election day. All of them are published in our Opinionator section.

Measure D (the proposed Berkeley soda tax) and Measure R (the downtown initiative) continue to prompt the most debate. Since we last rounded-up our op-eds ten days ago, we have published three on the former and three on the latter.

Bryden Johnston, Holly Scheider, and the Berkeley Federation of Teachers, all write in favor of Measure D.

Anthony Bruzzone argues against Measure R, as does Matthew Taecker; while Lisa Stephens urges us to vote yes on the subject.

The League of Women Voters argues for a yes vote on Measure F, the proposed parks tax.

Meanwhile, Joshua Spivak says Prop. O, while not garnering as much attention as other measures, is a useful fix to the law. And Joseph Taecker-Wyss, a senior at Berkeley High School, addresses the mob scene and violence that erupted at the school last week on Rally Day. He argues that, while the student body shares responsibility for the events that happened, so should the administration. … Continue reading »

Op-eds: Measures R and D, cell phones, dental mercury

The iPhone 4
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Berkeleyside’s Opinionator section has recently welcomed five new op-eds.

On Oct. 16 we published an op-ed by Mal Warwick who argues that Big Oil and Big Tobacco have no place in Berkeley politics.

Two measures on the November ballot come under scrutiny. Dorothy Walker, a member of the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee, describes Measure R, the downtown initiative, as “misleading, inflexible and destructive.” And Peter Barglow, a clinical professor of medicine and psychiatry at UC Davis, takes issue with claims made by two previous op-ed authors when addressing Measure D, the so-called soda tax proposal. … Continue reading »

Op-eds on Measure D, overcrowding in Berkeley schools

Cragmont Elementary School: overcrowding is an issue
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Measure D, the so-called soda tax measure which will be on the Berkeley ballot in November, continues to prompt heated debate in our community, and big spending by the constituents that oppose the tax. It’s not surprising: what happens in Berkeley could prove pivotal for the country at large.

Berkeleyside’s Opinionator section has recently welcomed two new op-eds on the subject: one, by Eric Gorovitz, a Berkeley resident, BUSD parent, and Type II diabetic, argues in favor of the measure. The other, by Baylen J. Linnekin, the executive director of Keep Food Legal Foundation, says the tax is the wrong formula, regardless of its ideology.

Read all Berkeleyside’s coverage on the controversial soda tax.Continue reading »