Public Comment

Trying to Act My Age

Christopher Adams
Thursday November 12, 2015 - 11:44:00 AM

Last week two-thirds of the students at Berkeley High School marched in protest over a racist screen shot posted on a BHS library computer. But ageism seems to be going strong, as demonstrated in a San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece on the mega-project proposed for downtown Berkeley. In the piece, Mark Rhoades, a Berkeley consultant who is fronting for the project, is quoted as dismissing the opposition because it’s “over 60 and white.” At an earlier city meeting he or one of his associates referred to these opponents as a “group of gray ponytails.” Apparently it is all right to disparage people for being old. 

I don’t have a ponytail, but my hair is certainly gray. And I oppose Rhoades’s project although the only immediate impact on me will be that early morning parking will get worse around the nearby Downtown Y where I go a couple times a week, along with a lot of guys and some women, many of whom are over 60. Perhaps Rhoades thinks my opinion shouldn’t count because I may not live long enough to feel the full consequences of his project. 

If I’m already dead when the predicted wind turbulence blows flower pots off the project’s roof terraces, I won’t get hit. 

If the view from the Campanile is blocked by an 18-story building, I won’t miss it if I’m not here to try and see it. 

I won’t miss the movies at the Shattuck cinema when it isn’t replaced because I won’t be able to attend, and the downtown restaurants which will no longer have movie goers as patrons won’t miss me because I won’t need food. 

It’s an interesting concept. If we take Rhoades’s thinking to its logical extreme, we should deny voting rights to folks on Social Security, who, after all, are by and large living on the taxes younger people pay and may vote the wrong way as a result. At the very least should not the mayor and the chairs of the Zoning Adjustments Board and Landmarks Commission demand that speakers give their age before being allowed to speak before them? And speaking of the mayor, who doesn’t have a ponytail but whose hair is white, shouldn’t he recuse himself from voting on Rhoades’s project? 

Christopher Adams is a retired architect and city planner. He is 78.