Category Archives: Comment

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Op-eds: Elections, housing, homelessness, parking, more

Election 2016 campaign lawn signs. Photo: Kelly Owen
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Not surprisingly, given that we are counting down to an election — and one sporting a monster ballot in Berkeley — the pace of op-ed submissions to Berkeleyside has picked up considerably.

In case you missed any recent viewpoints expressed by our readers, here’s a recap of the last 16 op-eds published in our Opinionator section. Share your responses and insights in the comments sections of the individual op-eds:

Berkeley has a parking addiction By Andrew Ho

Cheryl Davila, my mother, is ready to steer Berkeley in the right direction By Armando Davila

Preserve public safety: Do not tie undergrounding utilities to disaster preparedness By Patricia MappsContinue reading »

Op-ed: Vote yes on U1 and no on Measure DD to fund affordable housing

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The affordability crisis in rental housing is clear to everyone. Rising rents create hardship for tenants and result in unprecedented profits for large landlords. Taxing those windfall profits to provide affordable housing is the right thing to do. That’s why a broad community coalition of affordable housing and homeless services advocates created Measure U1 and persuaded a unanimous City Council to put it on the ballot.

Measure U1 will raise at least $3.5 million that can be used for affordable housing every year. It increases the business license tax that larger landlords already pay by an average of just $30 per unit per month.

Large landlords can easily afford to pay this tax. They are charging $82 million more in rent per year than just a few years ago. Landlords are prohibited by law from passing this tax onto tenants with few exceptions. … Continue reading »

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Numerous op-eds weigh in on Berkeley mayor’s race

Berkeley ballot photo. Photo: Kristen Van Dam
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The election is three weeks away and Berkeleyside is getting lots of op-ed submissions. We just published three op-eds on the mayor’s race, which join others we have published in recent days.

The recap:

Jonathan Jaffee talks about how he finds mayoral candidate Laurie Capitelli more knowledgeable than Jesse Arreguín.

Nicky Gonzalez Yuen said that Capitelli is not a true progressive and holds out as an example the times Capitelli reneged on his promise to vote for a $15 minimum wage.

Eric Panzer argues that Berkeleyans aren’t facing a choice of who is the most or least “progressive” but who has the temperament, the relationships, and the leadership to successfully govern. He supports Capitelli. … Continue reading »

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Draft Berkeley bike plan not good enough, says advocate

Bike Plan drafting. Photo: Courtesy Dave Campbell
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In an op-ed published today on Berkeleyside, Dave Campbell, advocacy director of Bike East Bay, writes that Berkeley’s draft bicycle plan, released Aug. 29, is a good improvement over its current plan. He also thinks it is better than most bicycle plans currently under development in other East Bay cities such as Concord, Pleasanton and Moraga. But, he argues, Bike East Bay members, and thousands of people who bicycle in Berkeley every day, have higher expectations for the number 2 city in the US for bike commuting.

Read more about cycling in Berkeley and the Bike Plan.

There is still time for the public to weigh in on the city’s new bike plan. In the op-ed, Campbell explains how and outlines how he believes we can meet Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates’ stated goal of having the “best bicycle plan in America.” … Continue reading »

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Op-eds: Housing, homelessness dominate conversation

Berkeleyside readers asked a number of questions about homelessness in the city. We try to answer some of them below. Photo: Kai Schreiber
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Berkeleyside publishes many opinion pieces submitted by readers in its Opinionator section. Recently, many of them have focused on housing and on homelessness.

On July 7, Matthew Lewis, Housing Commission Chair for the Associated Students of the University of California, argued that the Berkeley City Council should adequately regulate short-term rentals to protect Berkeley’s housing supply.

On July 18, we published an open letter to the Council by a group of Berkeley citizens under the name REAL Berkeley that laid out why they think the city need real equity and access to a livable Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Housing is scarce, but UC’s new project is too big

This rendering shows the Stiles Site Student Housing Project from Spieker Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus, looking southeast. Photo: UC Berkeley
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There is no doubt that there is a housing shortage in Berkeley and with UC’s decision to admit more students, the crunch will get even worse. Yet the university’s plan to build an 8-story, 783-bed housing complex on Bancroft Way and Durant Avenue, east of Dana Street and just south of the UC Berkeley campus, is just plain wrong, argue Bill McClung and Martin Holder in an Opinionator piece. The planned design extends from property line to property line … Continue reading »

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Op-eds: Berkeley’s housing crisis and how to address it

Potential renters wait in line to view an open house on Durant Avenue, in Berkeley, on Wednesday, March 9, 2016. Photo: David Yee ©2016
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Berkeleyside publishes many opinion pieces submitted by readers in its Opinionator section. Three recent ones highlight different perspectives on addressing Berkeley’s current housing crisis.

In an op-ed published March 31, Eric Panzer, who works for Livable Berkeley, argues that solving the city’s housing crisis demands that we build more housing for all income levels, and he encourages people to sign the Livable Berkeley’s Housing Policy Petition.

Also addressing Berkeley’s housing problem, Ben Bartlett, a member of the Berkeley Planning Commission and candidate for City Council District 3, on April 4 outlined what he said was a potential step in the right direction with a new vision for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. … Continue reading »

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Op-eds: Housing crisis; city’s fiscal accountability

Berkeley has a critical housing shortage and needs new developments, writes Mayor Tom Bates in an op-ed published on Berkeleyside. Seen here: a proposed building on San Pablo Avenue. Image: HKIT Architects
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Berkeleyside publishes many opinion pieces submitted by readers in its Opinionator section.

In an op-ed published on March 24, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates addresses what he describes as the city’s “critical” housing crisis. While he acknowledges there is no simple answer, Bates is proposing a Housing Action Plan “to optimize our existing housing initiatives.” The new proposals — which include streamlining approval for green housing projects, a new “City Density Bonus” designed to create workforce housing, and incentives for landlords who rent to Section-8 tenants — go before City Council on April 5. … Continue reading »

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Op-eds: Tiny houses, benefits of theater, animal care…

Tiny house. Photo: Tammy Strobel
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Berkeleyside publishes many opinion pieces submitted by readers in its Opinionator section.

Terry Pink Alexander, the former director of development at Head Royce School and the former executive director of the Judah L. Magnes Museum, argued in an op-ed published on March 4 that children from disadvantaged communities benefit tremendously from seeing live theater, and we should help facilitate that.

Singer, writer and veteran activist of social justice movements Carol Denney wrote in an op-ed published March 16 says so-called “tiny houses,” while cute, are not the solution for homeless people, despite what Berkeley mayoral candidate Mike Lee says.

Ted Edlin, who has served on many local government commissions over the years, argued that too much is wrong in Berkeley and the powers that be are not on the job. “If you want police, and fire protection, and affordable garbage collection, you had better start to pay attention because ignoring the problem is going to cost you an arm and a leg and maybe your life,” he wrote. … Continue reading »

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Op-eds: Better biking; public health; college career day

Cyclists
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Berkeleyside publishes many opinion pieces submitted by readers in its Opinionator section. The three most recent address cycling in the city, and the need to make it safer; public health concerns among low-income neighborhoods; and helping our youth get on a higher education track through the upcoming college career day on March 9.

Joe DiStefano, who with his two kids rides the streets of Berkeley every day, expresses his deep concern about the city’s commitment to addressing the needs of bicyclists — particularly in light of the recent near-fatal accident at Fulton Street and Bancroft Way.

Jackie Boyd, a board member of Healthy Black Families, urges the community to be proactive and preemptive when it comes to public health issues to avoid a disaster such as Flint water crisis happening here. … Continue reading »

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Op-eds: Library Gardens neglect, park restrooms, more

Library Gardens. Photo: Devisadaria Duchine-Khauli
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Op-eds published by Berkeleyside in its Opinionator section this month address four different Berkeley-related issues.

Devisadaria Duchine-Khauli lives in the Library Gardens apartment building where six people died in June 2015 after a balcony collapsed. Duchine-Khauli loved living in the downtown complex when she first moved there. Since then, however, she has seen nothing but deterioration, which she has carefully chronicled. As she writes: “I’ve never experienced living in conditions such as those in Library Gardens before, but once I’d observed and experienced these incidences in short succession, I became fearful about the sustainability of the complex during an earthquake, or even El Niño.” … Continue reading »

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Op-eds: Readers chime in on homelessness

About 50 people have set up tents on the front lawn of Old City Hall to protest news homeless laws passed by the Berkeley City Council last week. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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The Berkeley City Council will again consider how it handles homelessness at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Berkeleyside has published two op-eds in recent days that tackle straight on the subject of homelessness in our city.

Michael Lee, a homeless, disabled senior citizen, argues that the ‘Liberty City’ encampment that was set up by homeless people outside Old City Hall, then dismantled at the request of the city, represented a viable solution rather than a problem.

As he writes: “…we housed and provided storage for 7% of the homeless population. We policed ourselves with very limited assistance from law enforcement. We established a recycling center to generate a community fund. Most importantly we created our own government. The cost to the city was two trash pick-ups. It should be noted that this community was built out of the dirt. We pulled ourselves up by our own bootstraps to solve our problem. Isn’t that the American way?” … Continue reading »

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Op-eds: Readers weigh in on 72-hour parking limit, homelessness and ‘demolition by neglect’

Berkeley Municipal Pier
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After the tempestuous City Council discussion on homelessness last week, it’s unsurprising that the issue continues to prompt strong viewpoints. But that’s not the only thing Berkeleyans care about.

In his Opinionator piece, activist JP Massar claims the council majority, which approved a measure dealing with homelessness, is “scamming” the public. While the ordinance calls for storage lockers and showers, Massar writes that no money has been allocated for those actions. “By claiming to provide storage, public restrooms and showers they make us feel good, or at least good enough to shrug and turn away,” he writes.

In a sobering photo essay in Opinionator, North East Berkeley Association president Isabelle Gaston laments the deteriorating state of many of Berkeley’s public buildings and facilities, which she terms “demolition by neglect.” The amount of money the city allocates for infrastructure spending, she writes, “is grossly inadequate.” Gaston wants her essay to spark a conversation and community ideas for action. Add your voice to the comments.

Finally, freelance journalist Michael Levitin takes aim at the “draconian yet little known” Berkeley ordinance that limits street parking to 72 hours. Levitin returned from two weeks away and found that his car had been towed by the city, racking up fees and fines of nearly $2,500. The law, Levitin argues, is especially discriminatory against renters who don’t have an off-street parking space. “This city has smart ambitious climate goals to reduce emissions 33% by 2020, encouraging residents to leave vehicles at home,” he writes. “Yet when we do, we’re penalized for it.” … Continue reading »