Free speech in MLK Park: Three of Berkeley's best express their opinion of the alt-right invaders.
M. H. O'Malley
Free speech in MLK Park: Three of Berkeley's best express their opinion of the alt-right invaders.

Page One

New: Activist charges that downtown Berkeley apartment complex is being illegally rented as a suites hotel

Becky O'Malley
Saturday April 29, 2017 - 12:23:00 AM

Downtown land use activist Kelly Hammargren has written to Berkeley Mayor Arreguin, City of Berkeley planning staff and the city council to report her discovery that a very large new apartment complex on South Shattuck Avenue in downtown Berkeley is being rented as a hotel instead of as the dwelling units for which it was permitted. -more-

Five arrested yesterday in Berkeley demonstration

Dennis Culver (BCN)
Friday April 28, 2017 - 02:51:00 PM

Police in Berkeley on Thursday arrested five people during a day of demonstrations in the city. -more-


Engines of Liberty offers strategies for this hour

Reviewed by Carol Polsgrove
Friday April 28, 2017 - 02:57:00 PM

In this time of heightened political awareness, David Cole’s Engines of Liberty: The Power of Citizen Activists to Make Constitutional Law offers us maps for our way forward.

Cole, professor of law and public policy at Georgetown University Law Center, tells the stories of how activists paved the way for Supreme Court recognition of rights in three areas:

  • the right of same-sex couples to marry,
  • the right of individuals to bear arms,
  • and the right of detainees to protection from torture and unjust imprisonment.
Activists’ strategies varied in each area. To move the nation to legal recognition of same-sex marriages, activists adopted an incremental approach, laying the groundwork through state legislative action and courts before taking their case to federal courts. That way, a setback in one state would not apply to other states. -more-

Public Comment

City of Berkeley flouts state density bonus law for 2902 Adeline project

Robert Lauriston
Friday April 28, 2017 - 04:19:00 PM

California's density bonus law provides a variety of bonuses for housing projects that include a small percentage of below-market-rate units that are reserved for and affordable to low-income households. One bonus is "concessions," which can be used to set aside local zoning code provisions.

To qualify for that bonus, the law also requires that any existing units that are or were last occupied by low-income tenants be replaced by units with the same number of bedrooms. If the income of the tenant households is not known, the law requires the city to presume that they were low-income in the same proportion as all renter households in the city. The burden is on the applicant to rebut that presumption.

Last October, the Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board approved permits to demolish a five-bedroom house at 1946 Russell and a mixed-use building at 2908 Adeline containing one five-bedroom unit and one two-bedroom unit in order to build a six-story building with 50 units, two of which would be affordable per the state law. This approval included use of a state concession to override the floor-area ratio limit. City staff did not inform the ZAB of the replacement requirement, so it was not even discussed. -more-


Toni Mester
Friday April 28, 2017 - 09:56:00 AM
Daylight plane

­­­ For the past few months, I’ve been immersed in zoning because the rules that govern building in my West Berkeley neighborhood are under review at the Planning Commission. The continued public hearing on the R-1A will be held on Wednesday May 17 at the North Berkeley Senior Center at Hearst and MLK. We’re hoping for a big turnout, but I’ve learned that zoning does not excite most people until somebody wants to build next door, and then the neighbors scour the code and master plan for some justification to deny the permit.

Appeals by neighbors have become the rule. Dean Metzger, a convener of the Berkeley Neighborhood Council, reviewed City Council minutes since January 2015 and found 26 land-use appeals, some of which have had continued hearings. That’s a huge drain on resources including staff time to process the appeals as well as demands on the Council to review each appeal, hear it, and render a decision. In 2008 the City increased the fee to appeal in the hopes of reducing frivolous claims. There was a time when every fence and hot tub would engender an appeal. Now the appeals are mostly based on the scale of new buildings, and the higher fees have not dissuaded neighbors from protesting the perceived disruption. Since these buildings provide needed housing, more should be done to better harmonize new development with existing neighborhoods. The zoning code should be reformed to create conditions that would make such appeals the exception. -more-

Hey, let's stop threatening speakers and making a mockery of Berkeley

Peter Ellman, New York
Friday April 28, 2017 - 04:08:00 PM

I'm a registered Democrat. I was not one of the Bernie supporters who out of protest voted for Trump (horrible idea) or Jill Stein or Gary Johnson or who didn't vote for any President at all (opposite of yuge). The reason I didn't do any of these things is because I thought and still do even more now that the Trump administration is probably going to prove to be one of the worst things to ever happen to our country.

He is a criminal and a deeply disturbed narcissist surrounded by other criminals and narcissist. When I say criminal I mean literally part of an organized racketeering crime ring providing a front for some of the worst elements of international organized crime including ties to Iran. Okay. So you know where I stand.

That being said, I will fly out to Berkeley and personally physically protect Coulter if she chooses to speak on campus. Berkeley should close its academic doors and close up shop before it denies someone like Coulter free speech. We may not like her but she is not exactly a Nazi. She's someone with views not our own who likes to get a rise out of people by saying offensive and stupid things. Anyone who threatens her with violence or who goes further to plot violence against her is also a criminal and a fool. -more-

May Day and Labor Day- A Major Difference

Harry Brill
Friday April 28, 2017 - 04:00:00 PM

Some of you might be confused about the difference between May Day and Labor Day. Actually the difference is substantial.

The May Day holiday is broader than Labor Day. Beginning in the late 19th century, socialists referred to May 1 as International Workers Day. It was on May 4, 1886 when police killed workers who were demonstrating in Haymarket Square, Chicago for an eight hour day. But May 1 commemorates the struggles and contributions of not only American workers, but all working people around the world. It is no surprise that the conception of May Day was international in scope because it reflected the perspective of socialist and communist leaders, who tend to take a broad perspective. Because of the severe resistance and repression they confronted, May Day has historically promoted an anti-establishment perspective. -more-

Trump & Indonesia

Jagjit Singh
Friday April 28, 2017 - 04:17:00 PM

It’s a pity that VP Mike Pence seems to be unaware of the close ties that his boss has long established perhaps unwittingly, with the elites of the Indonesian underworld. In a shocking expose’, long time reporter, Allan Nairn revealed supporters of Donald Trump have aligned themselves with army officers and vigilante groups linked to ISIS in an attempt to remove Indonesian’s president. -more-

Engineering failure of health care

Ron Lowe
Friday April 28, 2017 - 03:48:00 PM

Donald Trump and a few hundred Republican politicians are still out to repeal the successful Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) to please its base of Freedom Caucus and Obamahaters. The only way the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will fail is if Trump and Republican politicians sabotage it. -more-

North Korea threat

Tejinder Uberoi
Friday April 28, 2017 - 03:44:00 PM

World-renowned professor Noam Chomsky offered some sobering thoughts during a recent interview. -more-


The first 100+ days of Berkeley's New Progs—how's it going here?

Becky O'Malley
Friday April 28, 2017 - 03:53:00 PM

Well, the first hundred days of dread have passed, and as yet no nuclear war, so that’s the good news, right? The record of what Gail Collins calls “can’t do” has been made, and this week it has been exhaustively reviewed in the major and minor media. David Remnick in the New Yorker has a very complete accounting of A Hundred Days of Trump, so I don’t need to add anything.

I find among my scribbler friends with longterm political involvement a sentiment analogous to compassion fatigue: Outrage Exhaustion. Many of us just can’t seem to say OMG one more time, as we learn that this president is unimaginably worse than we could ever have expected.

The good news is that a lot of people who have previously preferred to devote their time to watercolor sketching or madrigals or organic vegis have now awakened from their slumber and are carrying the ball. It seems that what some grandly call “The Resistance” is in good hands, so I’m going to leave it there for now. Thanks, guys, and more power to you!

Instead, I’m going to focus on another first term, now about six weeks more than 100 days in the saddle. That would be the dramatic change (fingers crossed) in Berkeley’s City Council fostered by the new Berkeley Progressive Alliance and its fellow travelers, some of whom were already incumbents in the 2016 election. -more-


ON MENTAL ILLNESS: When Childhood is Over

Jack Bragen
Friday April 28, 2017 - 02:54:00 PM

I almost titled this week's column, "You Can't Go Home Again." However, since I haven't read that book, by Thomas Wolfe, and since I am not really speaking of the same situation, I decided not to give it that title.

When a person with a psychiatric disability gets older, parents aren't available as much to provide help, or just to be there and lend a sometimes false sense of security. (Even if the sense of security is false, it still feels better.) Parents may become deceased, or they may get older and may wish to go on with their own lives, rather than caring for middle-aged offspring that can't quite survive on their own. -more-

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Nuclear Breakthrough Endangers the World

Conn Hallinan
Friday April 28, 2017 - 03:25:00 PM

At a time of growing tensions between nuclear powers—Russia and NATO in Europe, and the U.S., North Korea and China in Asia—Washington has quietly upgraded its nuclear weapons arsenal to create, according to three leading American scientists, “exactly what one would expect to see, if a nuclear-armed state were planning to have the capacity to fight and win a nuclear war by disarming enemies with a surprise first strike.”

Writing in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project of the American Federation of Scientists, Matthew McKinzie of the National Resources Defense Council, and physicist and ballistic missile expert Theodore Postol, conclude that “Under the veil of an otherwise-legitimate warhead life-extension program,” the U.S. military has vastly expanded the “killing power” of its warheads such that it can “now destroy all of Russia’s ICBM silos.”

The upgrade—part of the Obama administration’s $1 trillion modernization of America’s nuclear forces—allows Washington to destroy Russia’s land-based nuclear weapons, while still retaining 80 percent of the U.S.’s warheads in reserve. If Russia chose to retaliate, it would be reduced to ash. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE:Berkeley Gets Trolled

Bob Burnett
Friday April 28, 2017 - 03:36:00 PM

"What's happening to Berkeley? Are you safe?" our friends ask. National headlines scream: "Riots in Berkeley!" "The Death of Free Speech!" Yes, something is happening in Berkeley. We've been trolled by the hard right. And our "leaders" haven't responded effectively. Now it's time for the true defenders of free speech to step forward.

The so-called "riot" unfolded in three acts. -more-