Public Comment

Development, Not Restoration, at the Berkeley Meadow

By Pete Najarian
Wednesday April 08, 2009 - 07:05:00 PM

In response to Joe Eaton’s March 19 column, “Restoration at the Berkeley Meadow”: There is no restoration at the meadow. There is instead a development. The original area was under the sea, which was, as you say, filled with refuse. 

But you deceive your readers by not saying that a wonderful wilderness grew over the landfill, which so many of us who have lived in the East Bay enjoyed for more than a generation. 

Then one day, a few years ago, it was, through bullying and back-room politics and with complete disregard for the general public, taken over and turned into the private property of a special interest group that included the names you mention, along with Norman La Force, Robert Cheasty, Arthur Feinstein and others whose names I don’t know, 

It was a vital wilderness with plenty of birds and other wildlife where UC students and school kids would come for field studies and where everyone was welcome to enjoy the wonders of what we call nature, which was a huge blessing in this age when such wilderness was becoming more and more rare. 

But those, whom you accept and support, fenced it and clear-cut it and now develop at taxpayers’ expense into a private garden where no one is allowed. 

Yes, they have left in it an ugly fenced-in narrow path for public use, but no one uses this except as a short cut from West Frontage to Marina Boulevard. 

In actual fact there are less birds there, including raptors, than before the clear-cut and the fence. Gone are the flocks of blackbirds and finches and who knows what other birds, and gone too are the rabbits and other rodents and the hawks who would feed on them, and gone of course are the fields of fennel and lace and so many other plants that you call “weeds.” 

Who are you to call anything a weed? Who are you to talk about “non-native” life? You and I and those you support are as non-native as most of California and indeed the planet, which is ever-changing and evolving. 

A self-supporting ecosystem grew in that landfill that was as free as the air we breathe, and the birds and the other wildlife and the rest of us were perfectly happy with sit until those you support came in and fenced it with signs that read, “Do not enter, Restricted Property.” 

In the meantime you write your column as if all this is perfectly acceptable, never once mentioning the loss of not only the wildlife but the freedom of people to enjoy it. 

There is no justifiable reason for that area, as huge as it is, to be fenced and restricted, including the baloney about dogs which was just an excuse for the takeover. 

That young and innocent wilderness could have remained as free and open as the one in Tilden and the UC Study Area in the Canyon, instead it has become as much a private property as that which has already taken over so much of the state and the country. 

It seems you pride yourself as a lover of nature, but you write for a community newspaper, and in doing so you are also part of a community, and you have as much responsibility to it as anyone else. Your silence regarding this subject is the same as that of any other that stands by passively while an outrage is committed. 


Pete Najarian is a Berkeley resident.