Category Archives: Comment

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 »

Op-eds: Measures D, S and F; Bayer, crime, mental health

Measure D, which aims to put a tax on sugary drinks, is dominating the Berkeleyside Opinionator section, but there are plenty of other subjects being aired there too. Photo: John
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Opinion pieces are being submitted to Berkeleyside at a rapid clip these days, and all are edited and published in our Opinionator section.

In case you missed them, you can catch up on 12 op-eds that have appeared since Oct. 1.

The controversial Measure D, which aims to put a tax on sugary drinks, accounts for half of them. The number of comments on the many op-eds we have published on this ballot measure is running in the high hundreds (it may even be over one thousand — we admit we haven’t sat down and counted.)

One writer urges people to vote no on Measure F, the parks tax increase. Another argues that Measure R, the downtown development initiative, is “bad government;” while yet another tells us why she thinks it’s important to vote on Measure S which considers whether to approve a new redistricting map for Berkeley. … Continue reading »

Op-ed: We trust officials to spend soda tax money wisely

Soda. Photo: dcjohn
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In “Beverage companies donate $800,000 to fight soda tax,” an article published on Berkeleyside on Sept. 22, 2014,  Roger Salazar, a spokesman for the No Berkeley Beverage Tax said that amount of money was needed because the entire Berkeley City Council is supporting the soda tax, and “extraordinary measures are needed to fight their moral authority.”

Pamela Gray, who is a volunteer for the Yes on Measure D campaign, laughed when she read that line. In an op-ed published today on Berkeleyside, she asks: “Who truly cares about the future of Berkeley’s children? The Berkeley City Council or the American Beverage Association? … Continue reading »

Op-eds cover Measure D, Measure F, UC and fossil fuels

Berkeley will vote on Measure D, the so-called Soda Tax, in November. Photo: Vox Efx
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Anyone would think there was an election coming up, the number of  op-eds that are being submitted to Berkeleyside these days!

Today our Opinionator section welcomes two op-eds on Measure D, the so-called soda tax measure. One is by Jill Herschman, the other by Dan McDunn, both of whom are members of the community with children in Berkeley Unified schools. Both are against the measure. (Scroll through Opinionator to find we have also published several op-eds that urge people to vote yes.)

Meanwhile, Berkeley Councilman Gordon Wozniak encourages us to support Measure F to “care and repair” Berkeley’s parks.

And a former UC student writes about why she believes UC should divest itself of its fossil fuel investments. … Continue reading »

Op-ed: Measure D will not reduce soda consumption

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I was visiting recently with a fellow Berkeley parent while at the Washington Elementary School Fall Fair. He wanted to know if I was familiar with Measure D, and wanted to encourage me to support it.

Rather than avoid the topic, I agreed to indulge him and struck up a conversation about the pros and cons of this measure. After all, my family does not consume soda, and we have made healthy eating a cornerstone of our lifestyle. Additionally, I have … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Support Measure F for care, repair of Berkeley parks

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Life sometimes comes full circle. Eighteen years ago, I jumped into public service in Berkeley as a novice member of the Parks & Recreation Commission, experiencing first hand the tremendous assets we have in our parks, paths, street trees, and recreational facilities. Now, as I approach my final days serving on the City Council, one of my top priorities and personal passions is to see that we preserve these assets, well beyond my tenure.   That is why I am supporting … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Why the 2014 Measure R is not “true green”

Downtown Berkeley, May 2014. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Henry Siegel is the founding principal at local architecture firm Siegel & Strain. His firm was involved in the construction of the LEED-Platinum Brower Center in downtown Berkeley and he has worked on the development of the LEED standards themselves.

In an op-ed piece published in Berkeleyside’s Opinionator section, Siegel argues that the proposed Measure R will make downtown less green, despite what its proponents argue. The “fixes” will “unfix” the Downtown Area Plan ratified by voters in another Measure R in 2010, he writes.

By requiring most tall buildings to be LEED Platinum instead of the now-required LEED Gold, fewer buildings will be constructed, said Siegel. … Continue reading »

Op-ed: Taxing soda, like we do cigarettes, makes sense

Berkeley will vote on Measure D, the so-called Soda Tax, in November. Photo: Vox Efx
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Mansour Id-Deen, President of the Berkeley chapter of the NAACP, says his family has a life-threatening crisis with diabetes as a result of too many sugar sweetened beverages, and that this an all to common situation in this country.

In an op-ed published on Berkeleyside, Id-Deen argues that we are facing an urgent and preventable health crisis and action is needed now.

“Nationally, one in three of our children are projected to get Type 2 diabetes in their lifetimes, a figure that rises to one in two among African-American and Latino people,” he writes. “Additionally, in Berkeley, African-Americans are four times more likely to have been diagnosed with diabetes and fourteen times more likely to be hospitalized.”

Id-Deen supports Measure D, the so-called soda tax on Berkeley’s November ballot, because, he says, it takes this fight to its source.  … Continue reading »