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Disruptive Berkeley City Council Meetings

Margy Wilkinson
Wednesday April 17, 2019 - 02:41:00 PM

Recent City Council meetings have seen strong reactions from folks there. I know that the council would prefer that everyone behaves nicely, patiently waits his or her turn at the mike and does not speak out of turn. But I think the Mayor and the Council by their own actions have made this almost impossible.

The point of public comment is that the people who pay taxes and vote get a chance to try to influence council members before the council votes. What has happened in Berkeley is that public comment has become a joke. It started during the Bates administration and unfortunately has reappeared with the new “progressive” council majority. Time after time when a vote is taken on an important issue, what has been said in public comment plays no role in how the majority of the council votes – most of the time there is not even an acknowledgement that anyone said anything. This leads to anger and cynicism – and when people’s very lives are at stake – as in the case of the vote on the RV policy -- the public has no way to express its concern, anger, outrage except to become loud.

In the matter of the RV policy if the Mayor and the City Manager had spent a few days or even several hours meeting with and talking to the RV dwellers and those of us who consider ourselves to be homeless advocates and had shown some tiny amount of comprehension of our concerns, much of the stormy rhetoric at Council might have been avoided.

In the meeting itself the Mayor turned a deaf ear to what the people in the chamber wanted. What in the world was he thinking when he repeatedly insisted that Item 21 had to go after other things on the agenda? It made no sense.

Unfortunately it becomes clear day by day that the leadership of this city has little interest in dealing humanely with homelessnees and is focused rather on just making those who are unsheltered go away.

Orderly conversations start with those who have the most power, not the other way around.

Press Release: Joseph Young Named Berkeley Symphony Director

Contact: Maggie Perkes, Berkeley Symphony
Wednesday April 17, 2019 - 02:08:00 PM

Berkeley Symphony is pleased to announce that Joseph Young has been named Music Director of Berkeley Symphony beginning with the 2019-20 Season through 2021-22.

In recent years, Joseph Young has made appearances with the Saint Louis Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Colorado Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Bamberger Symphoniker, New World Symphony Orchestra, Spoleto Festival Orchestra, Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Música, and the Orquesta Sinfonica y Coro de RTVE (Madrid); among others in the U.S. and Europe.  

From 2014 - 2017, Joseph served as the Assistant Conductor of the Atlanta Symphony where he conducted more than 50 concerts per season. Mr. Young also served as the Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, where he was the driving force behind the ensemble’s artistic growth. Other previous appointments have included Resident Conductor of the Phoenix Symphony, and the League of American Orchestras Conducting Fellow with Buffalo Philharmonic and Baltimore Symphony. Currently, Joseph is the Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Artistic Director of Ensembles at the Peabody Conservatory. Joseph became the Resident Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra (USA) in 2018. 

Maestro Young first appeared with Berkeley Symphony to conduct Britten & Bernstein, the second symphonic concert of the 2018-19 Season, on January 31, 2019 in Zellerbach Hall. When the guest conductor for this concert canceled due to an illness, Young had just two days to prepare for the first rehearsal which included a world premiere composed by Hannah Kendall, Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra, and Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes. Young’s performance was well received by the musicians and audience alike. “Young’s ability to tackle at short notice not only Kendall’s world premiere but also significant works by Britten and Bernstein was an impressive display. Certainly he seemed to have the delicacy and urgency of Kendall’s writing well in hand.” - Joshua Kosman, The San Francisco Chronicle, February 1, 2019 

“Joseph’s rapport with the orchestra is so clear and so heart-felt. We are very fortunate that he could join us this season on such short notice, and it has been delightful getting to know him. He will be a strong presence in the community, and we look forward to working with him in the years to come” stated Board of Directors Vice President for Governance and Music Director Search Committee Chair Kathleen Henschel. 

"We are delighted to welcome Maestro Joseph Young to usher Berkeley Symphony into a next era as our new Music Director just prior to our 50th anniversary," stated Board President S. Shariq Yosufzai. "Maestro Young's musical brilliance and amazing virtuosity was evident in his interactions with our audience, the wonderful musicians of the orchestra, and the search committee. We are so excited to have him following in the footsteps of his three pace-setting and illustrious predecessors as our fourth music director.” 

“I’m thrilled to be named the next Music Director of the Berkeley Symphony,” said Joseph Young. “From our first rehearsal, I felt a fantastic connection and chemistry with the musicians. I became immediately struck by the organization’s and community’s extraordinary history of innovation and energy. I am proud to become the leader of an orchestra with a celebrated past and high ambitions for the future. As we open a new musical chapter together, I look forward to strengthening the connections between the orchestra, Berkeley and the greater Bay Area.” 

Executive and Artistic Director René Mandel added, “As a person and as an artist, Joseph embodies a rare humility that was evident as soon as he stepped on the podium for the first time. There was an instant attraction that permeated throughout our entire family, both on and off the stage. Joseph is keenly aware of his role in our community and he will be an exemplary ambassador for the City of Berkeley and beyond. We are deeply honored to have Joseph leading Berkeley Symphony into our next era.” 


Berkeley Symphony is unique among Bay Area and American orchestras for its commitment to innovation, community, and excellence. Founded in 1971 in the intellectual and artistic nexus of Berkeley, California, the Orchestra is committed to premiering and commissioning new music and champions female composers, sustained by the supportive musical environment of Berkeley, the East Bay, and the San Francisco Bay Area. From the outset, the people behind Berkeley Symphony’s culture and programming were attuned to the culturally diverse people and the heady creative climate of their home city.  

Thomas Rarick, a protégé of the great English maestro Sir Adrian Boult, founded the orchestra in 1971 as the Berkeley Promenade Orchestra. Reflecting the spirit of the times, musicians performed in street dress and at unusual locations such as the University Art Museum. When Kent Nagano became the music director of the orchestra in 1978, he charted a new course by offering innovative programming that included rarely performed 20th-century works and numerous premieres. The renamed Berkeley Symphony Orchestra gained an international reputation for its adventurous programming, and became known for premiering the music of international composers and showcasing young local talents. Berkeley Symphony entered a new era in January 2009 when Joana Carneiro became the Orchestra’s third Music Director in its 40-year history. In 2016, Berkeley Symphony and composer Anna Clyne were awarded a Music Alive grant for a three-year composer residency, designed to immerse Clyne and the Symphony in the creation of new work, collaboration with other Berkeley arts institutions, music education, community outreach and multidisciplinary activities. Joseph Young succeeds Music Director Emerita Joana Carneiro after she announced her intent to step down as Berkeley Symphony’s Music Director at the end of the 2017-18 season and after nine seasons at its artistic helm. 

Berkeley Symphony has introduced Bay Area audiences to works by upcoming young composers, many of whom have since achieved international prominence. Celebrated British composer George Benjamin, who subsequently became Composer-in-Residence at the San Francisco Symphony, was first introduced to the Bay Area in 1987 when Berkeley Symphony performed his compositions Jubilation and Ringed by the Flat Horizon; as was Thomas Adès, whose opera Powder Her Face was debuted by the Orchestra in a concert version in 1997 before it was fully staged in New York City, London and Chicago. 

2019-20 Season concerts details will be announced mid-May of this year. 


48hills sues MTC over secretive housing policy operation

Tim Redmond, 48Hills.com
Monday April 15, 2019 - 02:51:00 PM

We want to know how much public money went into funding a pro-developer operations aimed at promoting more market-rate housing with few protections for vulnerable communities.

48hills filed suit in San Francisco Superior Court today asking a judge to order the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to release full reports of how much public money was spent on the Committee to House the Bay Area (CASA).

The lawsuit demands all documents that show MTC funding going to CASA from the first day the regional transit agency helped create that group, which was chartered with finding a “grand solution” to the Bay Area’s housing crisis. 

For the full story click here: 

Police Check Gunfire Reports Near UCB

Kathleen Kirkwood (BCN)
Friday April 12, 2019 - 12:25:00 PM

Police at UC Berkeley were investigating after reports early Friday of 10 gunshots heard near the campus in three different locations. 

Gunfire was first reported at 1:37 a.m., when six shots were reported in the 2500 block of Durant Avenue. 

Witnesses told police they saw a male suspect wearing a gray hoodie firing a gun, but it wasn't known if he was intentionally firing at someone or something, UC police said. 

The suspect left in a black Mazda sedan driven by a female driver, headed southbound on Bowditch Street from Durant Avenue, police said.  

When officers from the UC and Berkeley police responded to the area, they didn't find anyone injured. 

Less than an hour later, about 2:10 a.m., police received a similar report. This time, three gunshots were reported in the 2300 block of Piedmont Avenue. 

Following that, at 2:17 a.m., police received a report of a single gunshot in the 2500 block of Warring Street.  

Officers responding to the second and third reports found no suspects or victims in the area. 

Anyone with information is asked to call UC police criminal investigation bureau at (510) 642-0472 during business hours and (510) 642-6760 at all other times. 


Cyclist Hit by Car Dies at Home

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Friday April 12, 2019 - 12:27:00 PM

A 75-year-old bicyclist who was injured when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver in Berkeley last month has died, according to the Alameda County coroner's bureau. 

However, a coroner's spokeswoman said the cause of Julian Curran's death at his home in Berkeley last Friday has not yet been determined and the office is looking into whether it was related to the injuries he suffered in the collision at Ashby Avenue and Fulton Street on March 2. 

Berkeley police spokesman Officer Byron White said Curran was biking south on Fulton when a driver crashed into him, leaving him with a severely broken leg. 

The driver fled about five blocks down Ashby, abandoning the car on Otis Street, according to White. 

Police are still investigating the collision and haven't made any arrests, White said on Thursday. 

Curran was the owner of Curran Construction LLC in Berkeley. According to the firm's website, it specializes in preventing and mitigating water intrusion, residential remodels, additions, custom carpentry and restoration. 

The website describes Curran as "one of the fortunate few who truly love their work." 

It says he "approaches his projects with the curiosity and exuberance of a young carpenter, combined with the skill and pragmatic problem solving that only comes with extensive and varied experience." 

The company site says Curran was a native of Berkeley and at one point settled on the Sonoma County coast after stints in the U.S. Air Force, the Danish Merchant Navy and extensive travel through Europe and the Middle East.

Peace and Justice Commission Passes Unanimous Resolution Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of People's Park

Carol Denney
Thursday April 11, 2019 - 08:32:00 PM

The Peace and Justice Commission unanimously passed a resolution commemorating the 50th Anniversary of People's Park at its Monday, April 8th, 2019, meeting in City Hall's Cypress room. The resolution from Commissioners Igor Tregub and Denny Han is extensive, honoring People's Parks origins, history, founders, and values, describing it as "significant" and noting that, "the founding ideals of the Park remain critically important today." 

The item's discussion was thoughtful, incorporating many suggestions from members of the public in attendance to create a comprehensive overview of People's Park's important place in a larger historic trajectory of significant movements, including human rights, free speech, and the power of community. The resolution will subsequently be sent to the Berkeley City Council.


Public Comment

Comments on the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (DSEIR)
for the Goldman School of Public Policy (GSPP) Upper Hearst Development project
and Minor Amendment to the 2020 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP)

J M Sharp
Saturday April 13, 2019 - 03:22:00 PM

Welcome to another chapter in Berkeley’s GOWN SWALLOWS TOWN saga. My comments below address the Proposed Project’s deficiencies with two-dozen narrative “nuggets.” Most of my questions are tossed into a “caboose” at the end.

Though the Upper Hearst Development is exceedingly complicated, I think it can be reduced to a relatively simple formula:

DVP > P3 > ASM > $

where: DVP = dean’s vanity project

P3 = public private* partnership

ASM = aerial strip mine

* with outsource partners ACC and CHF

My recommendations to the authors of the CEQA draft document are also uncomplicated:

First, SCRAP the Minor LRDP Amendment concerning density in the Campus Environs Housing Zone. The changes advocated in Appendix B (DSEIR, p 251) rest on the flimsiest of assertions concerning “an exception” needed in support of university “excellence.”

Second, SEVER the updated population baseline discussion from the DSEIR. The relationship of existing campus headcount with 2020 LRDP projections is sufficiently important to merit its own independent CEQA document. The City of Berkeley agrees. 

Third, if there’s still sufficient resolve among project backers to move forward, REDRAFT and RECIRCULATE that part of the DSEIR that relates to the Upper Hearst Development. There’s much that can be improved both within the DSEIR itself and the public process surrounding it. 

1. Trouble at the railroad yard 

We first suspected something was amiss last December when Cal’s Finals Week came and went without an announcement. Where was the Goldman project’s draft EIR? Normally these things are as predictable as curbside dog waste. For years, we’ve watched how environmental pufferbellies routinely exit UC Berkeley’s CEQA railroad just before holidays. Review and response time can be kept to a minimum this way. “What’s going on?” we wondered. Then came January. Then Groundhog Day. Still nothing. 

2. Scoping flashback 

Back in March 2018 everything seemed to be on a fast track. One year to the day after UCB’s Office of the Vice Chancellor Real Estate and the Goldman School of Public Policy jointly issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ), GSPP Dean Henry Brady hosted the obligatory CEQA scoping session in the bowels of Beta Theta Pi. Pens and comment cards were offered to the handful of neighbors who bothered to appear. What began as a schmooze-fest with project partisans amid poster boards soon morphed into a military-style debriefing with slideshow. The dean and his team members spoke. We stood and listened. No time for questions, except via the cards. No refreshments were offered, except tea in the adjacent room. 

3. Nacht, Nacht, who’s there? 

For us, it was déjà vu all over again, except less comfortable and more downscale. A mere nineteen years earlier, in the same venerable building, we enjoyed the hospitality of Dean Michael Nacht. We listened to dean and team extol the virtues of a proposed annex. It was to occupy the small parking lot immediately west of Beta Theta Pi. A generous grant (north of $20m) from the Goldman Foundation would secure the project (and school’s name change). Refreshments were plentiful and delicious. 

4. Vanity project in perspective  

It’s instructive to juxtapose the two construction initiatives by the two Goldman School deans. The first, the Goldman Annex building, essentially doubled the school’s usable space—from 7,500 sq ft to around 15k sq ft. Lost in the process were 22 parking spaces and several mature live oaks on Le Roy Avenue. Dean Brady’s expansion plan, by contrast, will triple GSPP’s current size (which now includes 4,500 sq ft of rented space at Memorial Stadium) to around 60k! Moreover, the current incarnation of the school’s expansion plans permanently removes around 200 spaces from the adjacent Upper Hearst Parking Structure and lot (UPHS & UPHL). The Campus Landscape Architect has already condemned the two large coast redwoods on La Loma Avenue as non-specimen trees. 

5. DSEIR hairball coughed up, finally 

One can hardly say it was worth the wait. The Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (DSEIR) surfaced on Feburary 20th, eleven and 23 months after the scoping session and RFQ, respectively. The document embeds the dean’s dream into a nightmare matrix of disappeared parking for UPHS/L patrons and housing pie-in-the-sky for UCB’s development partners. Further clouding its nearly 800 pages is a tenuous (Frankenstein-esque?) linkage to UCB’s 2020 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP). 

6. Rube Goldberg would be proud 

Why complicate unnecessarily an already thoroughly tangled environmental document? One likely possibility: it’s part of the defendant’s legal strategy in Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods v. The Regents of the University of California, Alameda County Superior Court Case No. RG18902751. In his Scoping Comments response last September (DSEIR, pp 220-222) to the mid-August Notice of Preparation (NOP), attorney Tom Lippe argues that key “structural” problems are created by combining two distinct CEQA projects in the same EIR. 

7. Want your scrambled eggs yoked or un-yoked? 

Chief among the plaintiff’s issues is UCB’s burgeoning student enrollment and unmitigated impacts. Current headcounts have grown increasingly out-of-synch with baselines in the 14-year-old LRDP. Enrollment increases are a “CEQA project” in their own right, Lippe maintains, and “should not be yoked to the EIR for a major capital project that may face unknown and potentially protracted delays.” University lawyers no doubt hope that certification of the Goldman SEIR by UC Regents will moot the pesky Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods case. 

8. An exceptional edifice of excellence 

Another complication is that the revenue-generating end of the project site was previously designated by UCB for merely medium-density development. Not a problem. Fix it with a “minor amendment” to the 2020 LRDP and goose it up to “high density.” The reader is reassured in Appendix B (DSEIR, p 251) that this adjustment is a ”rare exception” in support of the university’s continuing quest for excellence. LRDP boilerplate for the new Cal Aquatics Center on Bancroft Avenue is cited as precedent. All this can be found in section 3.1.14 City Environs Framework of the 2020 LRDP. Subhead: “Plan every new project to respect and enhance the character, livability, and cultural vitality of our city environs.” 

9. Geotechnical backfill 

The more-density-in-support-of-excellence argument is buttressed by a substantial geotechnical section (Appendix D) comprising over 43 percent of the 776-page DSEIR. Is this because the proposed residential complex would sit precariously on the western edge of the Alquist-Priolo Special Study Zone? The appendix is adorned with colorful geologic maps and cross-sections of borings (drilled in mid-September 2017). Among the fascinating details revealed is that UCB’s geologist in 1970 observed that “a well-developed fault trace intersects the northeast corner of parking structure.” Not really a problem, conclude the authors, in their “desk study.” “Oh, to be a UC ‘non-fault” contractor!” exclaimed a geologist neighbor of ours. 

10. Digging to China 

Execution of the ambitious Goldman project will necessitate ambitious excavation. How much? Here is what the DSEIR (p 41) says about grading: 

Grading would involve an estimated 13,147 cubic yards of cut and 140 cubic yards of fill, resulting in a net export of 13,007 cubic yards of material for offsite disposal. In addition, demolition of the existing parking areas would require the export of approximately 7,000 cubic yards of material from the Project site. The maximum depth of excavation would be approximately 23 feet below grade level. 

11. Mighty Stanley as a metric 

Place yourself next to La Loma Avenue at the southeast corner of Goldman’s one-acre-sized opportunity site. Cross Hearst Avenue and proceed south along Gayley Road for just 0.2km (a distance that corresponds to the approximate distance between the Hayward Fault (DSEIR, p 251) and the Goldman site. Now look to your right. There you’ll find the massive Stanley Biosciences and Bioengineering Facility. Eleven stories tall (with three below grade) this structure replaced the Old Stanley Hall, which was demolished in 2005. Within its 285k-sq-ft interior, Stanley contains a three auditoriums (with a total of 465 seats) and a multimedia classroom (with 45 more). It was completed in 2007 on a budget of $162.3m. 

12. Tiny Goldman plays catch-up  

GSPP’s new 40k-sq-ft academic building will consist of office, classroom, and event space. We are told that the latter, with a seating capacity of 300, will accommodate up to 450 visitors at maximum capacity. So, Goldman with 450 (not all seated) vs Stanley with a just few more. GSPP’s ambitious adjacent housing complex, including residential units and parking, would be approximately 220 gsf. So, with the subterranean parking tossed in on the Goldman side, we see a GSPP/Stanley size ratio of 220+40 / 285 = 0.91. Should we imagine Stanley Hall lying on its side? 

13. Drive-by transportation analysis 

The DSEIR informs us (p 161) that Fehr & Peers, UCB’s go-to traffic consultant, collected peak-period vehicle counts at four LHPS/L parking driveways on May Day last year. They figured that, with the loss of 207 existing parking spaces, trip-generation numbers will drop once the new housing complex opens its doors. Whoopee! But it’s too early to celebrate. A look back at the July 2000 DEIR for the Goldman Annex project shows at least a couple paragraphs devoted to parking in the vicinity. Why parking is addressed in a small Goldman project but not a huge one is baffling. Was F&P’s myopia related to their own failings or that of whomever wrote their contract and paid their fees? 

14. Unnoticed neighbors 

More on the myopia theme: the two CEQA public hearings revealed more than we ever wanted to know about the Physical & Environmental Planning (PEP) team’s interest in exposing UCB’s project plans to the public. We live only a block north of the proposed project site, yet we received no hardcopy notice for either public hearing. As far as we know, none of our neighbors received any notice either—except for a couple on Ridge Road. In the good old days, we would find postcards from PEP in our mailbox. 

15. Hearings in Kamchatka 

Adding to the insult were the hearing venues. The first hearing—intended originally to be the only one—was tucked into the Alumni House across campus on a Berkeley City Council evening. Objections from Councilmembers shamed PEP into serving up a second helping nine days later. The venue for that hearing, Room 150, University Hall on Addison Street, was no closer to the project site than the first, although it was closer to City Hall. 

16. Retail window vs wholesale back door 

For us, the real eye-opener (or stick-in-the-eye?) came several days after public hearing #1. We were tipped off by a Daily Cal piece devoted to a UC Regents meeting at UCLA on Wednesday, March 13th, ONE DAY AFTER THE FIRST PUBLIC HEARING. Lo and behold, we learn that GSPP Dean Brady and UCB Vice Chancellor Rosemarie Rae regaled the Finance and Capital Strategies Committee (F&CSC) with the wonders of the Upper Hearst Development project. The whole scheme and its considerable benefits are summarized in a nine-page package (Discussion Item F7) from UC’s Office of the President (UCOP). If only the poor schmucks who schlepped to the Alumni House the previous evening had known about CEQA’s back door. 

17. P3 to the rescue 

Word-for-word, UCOP’s tidy F&CSC discussion item yields far more useful information than the voluminous DSEIR. For instance, its Executive Summary declares: “This project is delivered through a public-private partnership and funded through a third-party debt financing structure, supplemented with equity from GSPP’s fundraising efforts.” Hmmm. Why don’t we see that juicy tidbit anywhere in the DSEIR? Reading on, we discover that Goldman was outbid in 2014 on a 12,800-sq-ft property three blocks away on Euclid Avenue. An attempt to lease 20k sq ft of space from the nearby Church Divinity School similarly collapsed. 

18. Texas-style outsourcing 

A March 2017 RFQ eventually brought American Campus Communities into Goldman’s orbit. Austin TX-based ACC is a publicly-traded real-estate investment trust that has become a big player in the burgeoning “P3” industry. It develops and owns both on- and off-campus dormitories for universities eager to outsource the risk and financial responsibility for new dorm construction and management. Wikipedia cites ACC as the largest private dormitory manager in the country by the end of 2016. The new 700+-bed Blackwell Hall, on Dana between Bancroft and Durant, is an ACC project. 

19. Alabama-style financing 

The F7 revelations continue in an “Ownership and Financing Structure” paragraph: 


The land and parking garage will be ground leased from the University to Collegiate Housing Foundation (CHF), a qualified nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, and the project is proposed to be financed through the issuance of tax-exempt bonds. The development team, led by ACC, will develop and manage the construction of all components of the project on behalf of CHF. . . Rental revenues from the new apartments would support the debt service of the parking structure, and maintenance, operations, and debt service of the housing construction. CHF will own the project until the project debt is repaid. The apartments will be operated and managed by ACC . . . 

CHF is based in Fairhope AL. 

20. UCOP has fallen for P3s 

Back in July 2010, UCOP’s Budget and Capital Resources operation released “Private Public Partnerships at the University of California.” Revised in June 2013, the document claims that UC had successfully employed or was in the process of planning 81 Public Private Partnerships throughout the state. Under “Critical Factors” it suggested that for UC, the use of a PPP is most effective for projects that: 




  • Are situated off-campus on land not owned by UC; and/or
  • Generate stable income; and/or
  • Represent a building type commonly developed privately, such as rental housing, commercial office buildings, hotels, and generic lab facilities.
21. Indebtedness beyond the horizon 



Within UCOP’s P3 publication are three case studies which illustrate the use of PPPs at UC. One of them is a 545-unit, 1564-bed student housing project at UC Irvine that utilized a ground lease on 24 acres. It began service in 2006. Total project cost worked out to just over $58k per bed. The project was developed by an arm of ACC under a contract with CHF, the project manager. It was financed with a 30-year, tax-exempt bond issue. IS THIS A LIKELY MODEL FOR THE UPPER HEARST DEVELOPMENT? UCOP’s F7 item says that upon repayment of the project debt, the ground lease with the owner will terminate and project ownership will transfer back to UCB. (If we all should live so long.) Note that CHF’s original underwriter for the project was the now-defunct Lehman Brothers. 

22. Built-in escape hatch 

Embedded in the 2017 RFQ, and repeated numerous times in subsequent documents and public hearings, is the notion that the Proposed Project will develop housing appropriate for new faculty, visiting scholars, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. Subtext: upscale tenants = upscale rents. “If feasible, the project will offer rents below market rates for these populations either directly or through rent scholarships.” But what if scholarships are unavailable or ACC has difficulty filling their new digs with the right people? Not to worry. “The units may be offered to the University population if there is not adequate interest from these groups after good faith marketing efforts,” F&CSC members were informed. 

23. Find your place to love 

A glance at ACC’s home page < https://www.americancampus.com/ > rewards the visitor with ear-to-ear collegiate smiles and snappy slogans: 

“Find your place to love.” 

"Where students love living. ® " 


We believe every student should love where they live. That's why our number one  

priority is delivering the best possible experience for students -- at every  

price point. It's the goal we continually strive for, and the mantra that shapes  

our values as an operation. 

24. Landlord from hell? 

Despite their considerable self-esteem, ACC as a dorm manager earns but one out of five possible Yelp stars from their residents: 


1 of 19 reviews 


DO NOT live at any american campus community. I have currently  

been dealing with my roof leaking for a month now. They have not done anything  

despite my repeated calls, emails, and talks with maintenance people who are  

currently doing OTHER jobs. This is ridiculous, I do not ever recommend living  

at one of these communities, or ever having to deal with any of their employees.  

The incompetence is astounding. 


1 of 12 reviews 


If I could give this company 0 stars I wouldn't hesitate. This is  

the most monopolistic, horrendous, inhumane and quick money scheming company  

that I've ever encountered. Comcast doesn't compare, Verizon doesn't compare,  

nothing compares. I wish I could tell you I was being dramatic, but alas, this  

is the worst organization that has ever existed.




What is the present enrollment at GSPP? 

What was the enrollment at GSPP in 2000? 

How much additional enrollment capacity was made possible by the GSPP Annex? 

What is the present staff count at GSPP? 

What was the staff count at GSPP in 2000? 

How much additional staff capacity was made possible by the GSPP Annex? 

What is the present faculty count at GSPP? 

What was the faculty count at GSPP in 2000? 

How much additional faculty capacity was made possible by the GSPP Annex? 

Roughly, how many of GSPP’s present faculty and staff regularly park at UHPS/L? 

How does GSPP fit into the 1990 LRDP’s “precinct” guidelines? Back then, GSPP’s location was smack in the “Engineering and Earth Sciences” precinct. “The purpose of organization by precinct is to recognize the existing clusters of uses, and to strengthen them through the assignment of existing space and the allocation of new development sites.” (p 4-39). Could you please explain? By this logic, shouldn’t GSPP be located closer to Berkeley Law and the Haas School of Business? 

Public hearings 

Who selected the time and place for the first DSEIR public hearing? Was that decision the responsibility of UC Berkeley’s Physical & Environmental Planning (PEP) team? Were they not aware that it was a City of Berkeley Council night? 

Originally, only one public hearing was contemplated (on March 12th) for the DSEIR, correct? Why was the Alumni House selected as the hearing venue and not some room considerably closer to the project site and the affected neighbors? Did UCB originally TRY to get a closer hearing venue? If not, why not? 

We know of only one pair of neighbors who received hardcopy notice of the first DSEIR public hearing. They happen to live on Ridge Road, directly across the street from the north end of the proposed project. Was there anyone else who received hardcopy notice of the hearing? Do you have a list of noticed residents you could provide? If not, why not? 

If this DSEIR is recirculated, is there any chance that future public hearing(s) will be held at a location more convenient to the impacted neighbors? 

A second DSEIR hearing was scheduled for March 21st. We’ve heard that it was in response to complaints from the City of Berkeley. Is that true? If so, in the FSEIR (or revised DSEIR) could you please include any correspondence or documentation that COB wanted a second hearing? 

Was UCB’s noticing procedure for the second DSEIR hearing any more vigorous than for the first one? 


Barring unforeseen seismic events, how many more years of useful life do university engineers expect the Upper Hearst Parking Structure (UHPS) to provide? How often is UHPS inspected for structural problems? Approximately, what do those inspections cost? 

In her comments before the UC Regents F&CSC on March 13th, UCB Vice Chancellor of Finance Rosemarie Rae reportedly said that the Upper Hearst Parking Structure has a series of infrastructural flaws. Is this true? If so, could you please document them? Why is there no such information in the DSEIR? 

In his remarks at the second public hearing, GSPP Dean Henry Brady reported that “we made the decision early on that it was worth paying $30,000 for each space that was eliminated.” Could you please elaborate on the derivation of this number? Does it apply to UCB Parking & Transportation spaces in general or only at specific places on campus? Is there a P&T price difference between covered and uncovered spaces? Can you offer any supporting documents to back up Dean Brady’s calculations? 

Has there been any internal documentation (within P&T or elsewhere) that analyzes the number of F (faculty/staff) and C (central campus) permit users of the UHPS and UHPL facilities? If so, could you please include it in the FSEIR (or recirculated DSEIR)? 

Professor Eli Yablonovitch suggested at the March 21st public hearing that the loss of parking required to facilitate Dean Brady’s capital improvements risks triggering the loss of faculty and staff within one of UCB’s greatest assets, the College of Engineering. Why wasn’t this concern anticipated and addressed in the DSEIR? 

In addition, Professor Yablonovich expressed doubts about GSPP’s current ability to finance their ambitious project. The first step, he said, “is going to tear down a parking structure that would cost $20m to replace, which doesn’t make any sense.” Is this cost estimate realistic? 


The recent emergence of an online petition by the Ad Hoc Committee for Review of the GSPP Project to “stop demolition of the Upper Hearst Parking Garage” illuminates some of the unfortunate tradeoffs associated with the proposed project. Some of the 500+ petitioners 

have included “Reasons for signing” with their ID information. The reasons range from silly to serious, but would it be possible to include comments from the petitioners in the FSEIR or recirculated DSEIR? 

Project design 

Without the Minor Amendment to the LRDP, how many dwelling units would be appropriate for this parcel? Is it 40 per acre? 

What, for example, is the comparable allowable density at Cloyne Court? Or on the La Loma side of the Foothill Residence Hall? 


We are told that the maximum grading depth at the Upper Hearst Development site will be 23 feet. Is there any likelihood that the project contemplated will have to dig deeper than that? 

The DSEIR claims that the site will require 20,000 cubic feet of grading and debris removal. For comparison, approximately how much material was removed for the Goldman Annex site? 

What about de-watering machinery? Will it be required permanently on the Proposed Project site? If so, what might be the likely annual operating costs? 

Is it correct that Stanley Hall has permanently installed de-watering machinery in its subterranean levels? If so, can you say (roughly) what this costs to operate annually? 

Do Stanley Hall’s subterranean levels offer any useful guidance for the below-grade parking contemplated for the GSPP project site? Could you please elaborate? 

What sized trucks (in terms of carrying capacity) are likely to be used in removing the grading materials and concrete pieces? Five cubic feet? Ten cubic feet? Something else? 

With the expectation of 20,000 cubic feet of these materials to be removed from the project site, how many individual truck trips does that represent? 

During construction, how much of the construction traffic is likely to be directed along the Ridge Road corridor, especially between Euclid and La Loma?. Will the FSEIR (or a revised DSEIR) devote any attention to this? If not, why not? 

During construction, is there any possibility that trucks and machinery can be required to start no earlier than 8am and stop no later than 5pm? If not, what about 7:30am? Will work on weekends be allowed? 


Is there any construction scenario in which the two redwoods adjacent to the UHPS can be saved? If not, why not? 

What about the other street trees adjacent to the project site on La Loma Avenue and Ridge Road? 

How much of the streets adjacent (especially Ridge Road and La Loma) to the project site will be rendered unusable during the course of construction? For how long? 

Similarly, what about the sidewalks adjacent to the project site? 

Do you anticipate that a crane will be required to construct the Upper Hearst Project? 

Roughly, how many workers do you anticipate will be required at different construction stages of the Proposed Project? How many of them are likely to travel to the site in their own vehicle(s). Where are they likely to park? 


Will the FSEIR (or a revised DSEIR) devote attention to the very tight on-street parking conditions in the area and how they might be impacted by the GSPP project, both during the months of construction and thereafter? If not, why not? Can the excess parking demand from special events like Greek Theatre concerts, commencement, and Memorial Stadium football games be included in the analysis? 

Would it be possible to expand the analysis to include traffic flow estimates before, during, and after the project on nearby residential streets like La Loma, Ridge, Le Roy, Le Conte, and Euclid? 

Shadow study 

Will the FSEIR (or a revised DSEIR) include a shadow study of the proposed residential complex? If not, why not? 


Will the FSEIR (or a revised DSEIR) include more renderings of the proposed project in relation to existing nearby structures—ie, on the Hearst, La Loma, and Ridge Road sides? 

If not, why not? For example, it’s very hard to judge how the residential complex will look relative to the existing Foothill dorms on La Loma. 

P3 partners 

The 2017 RFQ says that the Berkeley campus will seek authority from the UC Regents to enter into a ground lease/development agreement with the selected developer. We know now that ACC is the selected developer. Has a ground lease been signed? If so, could you please include a copy in the FSEIR or a recirculated DSEIR? If not, at what stage in the process might a ground lease be signed? 

Is Blackwell Hall ACC’s first housing project on or near the UCB campus? If not, what other projects on or near the UCB campus has ACC participated in or bid on? Do the student residents at Blackwell pay rent directly to ACC or is there some intermediary? 

Does CHF currently participate in any projects on or near the UCB campus? If so, could you please list them? 

UCOP suggests in a 2010/13 document that to succeed, projects delivered under a PPP require a well-thought-through “Basis of Design” document (BOD) that delineates design specifications and operating parameters. Does any BOD currently exist for the Goldman P3 project? If so, could you please include it in the FSEIR or revised DSEIR? If not, is a BOD planned at this time? 


The Minor LRDP Amendment looks like a key enabler for this project. Other than for the Aquatics Center on Bancroft, has there been any other time since the 2020 LRDP was created that UCB/UCOP has asked for a Minor Amendment? If so, could you please list the case(s)? 


UCOP listed the Upper Hearst Garage as one of nine “Potential Housing Sites” in Table 3 on page 4 of discussion item F1, “UPDATE ON STUDENT HOUSING, BERKELEY CAMPUS” at the 15 March 2017 meeting of the F&CSC. Yet in late June 2018, a UCB RFQ titled “Stage 1 Request for Qualifications: UC Berkeley Housing Initiative” was released in late June 2018. Its Section III B, “Potential Project Sites” lists eight candidate housing sites: 

a) Channing-Ellsworth 

b) Oxford Tract 

c) Unit 3 Residence Halls (existing housing) 

d) Smyth-Fernwald 

e) People’s Park 

f) Albany Village, Albany 

g) Bancroft & Oxford 

h) Richmond Field Station 

Can you please explain why the Upper Hearst Development site didn’t make UCB’s RFQ list? 

EECS professor Eli Yablonovitch asserted at the second CEQA hearing that because of the financing difficulties, the parking structure is being torn down to create market-rate housing by an out-of-state developer. “This is not housing that any student can afford,” he stated. Would you please comment on his remark? 

Thank you for your attention. For my conclusions and recommendations, please return to the first page. 


Raphael Breines, Senior Planner 

Physical & Environmental Planning 

University of California, Berkeley 

300 A&E Building 

Berkeley CA 94720-1382b 

Safety of Boeing's 737 Max 8 Questioned

Jagjit Singh
Thursday April 11, 2019 - 09:35:00 PM

Serious questions have been raised regarding the airworthiness and safety of Boeing’s 737 MAX 8. 

Thy family of the grandniece of Ralph Nader, who perished in the devastating crash, filed the first American lawsuit. More lawsuits are sure to follow. 

Initial findings showed that FAA does not have the required expertise and expected Boeing to self-regulate. It also speaks of the criminal lack of concern for airline safety by the Trump administration and Congress by cutting the budget of the FAA. The toothless FAA does not even have a statute to level criminal charges against Boeing. Even after the 787 Dreamliner was grounded in 2013 with battery fires, the FAA remained a bystander 

Boeing is now facing a criminal probe from the Justice Department and the FBI, with an active grand jury. Meanwhile President gushed incessantly about the safety of the MAX 8 instead of consoling families who lost love ones – another appalling failure of the executive branch. 

Even if the MAX is cleared to fly the general public has soured on its reliability and the FAA who they no longer trust. There is little hope that members of Congress will demand re-regulation after it was revealed that 330 members have taken campaign contributions from Boeing including free flights and all kind of freebies such as upgrades and fee waivers. Nader made a strong case for permanently grounding the MAX 8 and claimed there was no fix for its engineered instability and stalling problems. 


Evangelical Now Means Hypocrite

Ron Lowe
Thursday April 11, 2019 - 09:25:00 PM

One of the most extraordinary developments of recent political history--is the loyal adherence of religious conservatives to Donald Trump. Trump won four-fifths of the votes of white evangelical Christians. This was a higher level of support than either Ronald Reagan or George W, Bush, an outspoken evangelical himself, ever received.  

Trump's background and beliefs could hardly be more incompatible with traditional Christian models of life and leadership. Trump's past political stances (he once supported the right to partial-birth abortion), his character (he has bragged about sexually assaulting women), and even his language (he introduced the words pussy and shithole into the presidential discourse) would more naturally lead evangelicals toward exorcism than alliance. This is a man who has cruelly publicized his infidelities and made disturbing sexual comments about the size of his penis on the debate stage. Yet religious conservative who once squirmed at PG-13 public standards now yawn at such NC-17 maneuvers. 

Evangelical used to denote people who claimed the high moral ground; now, in popular usage, the word is nearly synonymous with 'hypocrite.'

New: Livable California and CVP send BART cease and desist letter for Brown Act violation

Bob Silvestri
Sunday April 14, 2019 - 11:22:00 AM

Senate Bill 50 (Wiener, San Francisco) is the most sweeping anti-local control legislation in California’s history. It represents the result of years of well-financed efforts by major banking, real estate development and corporate interests, and opportunistic Sacramento politicians pushing to remove local control of zoning and planning. The true purposes of SB 50 are disguised by a carefully crafted marketing campaign, which claims that unlimited growth will result in housing affordability. 

This legislation is opposed by major grassroots community organizations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and other major cities, who correctly recognize it as a path to displacement of existing residents and local-serving, small businesses. 

Susan Kirsch, president of Livable California, notes that “While the wealthy benefit, the rest of us will discover housing gets more expensive as taxes and fees to fund regional agencies with unelected leadership drain discretionary income.” 

This legislation should be of concern to all San Francisco Bay Area residents. Accordingly, the Marin Post has continued to publish in-depth analysis highlighting the implications of SB 50, and guidance about how to take action to ensure that community voices are heard. 

The rollout of this proposed legislation has included a rapid push by Sacramento legislators to secure the endorsement of major public agencies such as San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). As a result, SB 50 has been advanced and endorsed with little discussion or public input, and in some cases in clear violation of California’s Open Meetings laws. 

On Friday, April 12, 2019, attorney Jason Bezis, representing Livable California, Inc. and Community Venture Partners, Inc., filed a cease and desist demand letter with the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit Board of Directors to “cure or correct Brown Act Violations” at the BART Board’s March 14, 2019 special meeting to endorse Senate Bill 50. 

In the letter, dated April 12, 2019, the complainants allege that the BART Board took part in substantial violations of central provisions of the Ralph M. Brown Act and Article I, Section 3 of the California Constitution, which jeopardize the finality of actions taken by the BART Board on March 14, 2019, including but not limited to the Board’s endorsement of Senate Bill 50. Their letter demands cure or correction of these past violations and that the BART Board cease and desist from such future violations. 

At its special meeting of March 14, 2019, the BART Board took action to support Senate Bill 50. The action taken (their “decision”) was not in compliance with the Brown Act and Article I, Section 3, because BART failed to provide adequate notice to the public, and there was no finding of fact by the BART Board to support their decision to call for a special meeting, or that urgent action was necessary on a matter unforeseen at the time the regular meeting agenda was posted. 

To read the letter in its entirety, CLICK HERE 

Livable California, Inc., a San Francisco-based California nonprofit corporation, is a statewide coalition of elected officials and community leaders who work together to educate, network and advocate for community interests around land use, zoning, transportation, and housing issues. Its mission is: (1) to empower communities to take action to support local community planning and decision making with the goal of an equitable and sustainable future for California; and (2) to grow and sustain communities that meet the needs of individuals and families, governed by locally elected City Councils and Boards of Supervisors, in collaboration with regional agencies, and free from undue influence of big business and Sacramento. 

Community Venture Partners, Inc. is a Bay Area-based California nonprofit organization that facilitates and assists community-based projects, programs and initiatives that demonstrate the highest principles of economic, social and environmental sustainability. CVP is committed to the need for a transparent, "bottom up" public process that incorporates under-served community voices into government decision-making. The projects, events, programs and services offered by Community Venture Partners address a variety of community, local and regional issues related to city, county and regional planning, community involvement, affordable housing, sustainable development, and social and environmental impacts of development. CVP takes every opportunity to promote community voices on these issues. 


Bob Silvestri is President of Community Venture Partners. 

Moral Banking: From North Dakota To the Bay Area

Harry Brill
Thursday April 11, 2019 - 09:26:00 PM

The banks in California deposit the state's tax revenue in the large private banks, which often invests these funds out of state. The earnings from these investments are not generally emitted to the State's treasury. This practice weakens the state economy, and deprives the public of an adequate budget for its various programs. This pattern characterizes how the big banks do their business in other states as well. 

There is one very important exception to the corporate oriented strategy, which is the North Dakota state bank (BND). Owned by the state's government, it is the only bank nationwide that is in the public domain. This year BND has been in business 100 years. In fact, the state legislature declared in a celebratory resolution February 19 as "Bank of North Dakota Day" . 

There are no other major banks in the United States that the public would want to celebrate. A few years ago Wells Fargo created 2 million phony accounts on behalf of its customers without their knowing it. They were then charged spurious fees. Wouldn't it have been appropriate to set aside one day each year to commemorate the bank's criminal conduct with a "Wells Fargo Criminal Conduct Day"? 

The contrast with BND and the large US banks is startling. From the bank's very beginning in 1919 the state was committed to the public good. Back then it attempted to defend its farmers whose interests were being compromised by business interests in the east. During the 1930s depression when many public schools around the country were unable to pay their teachers, they received instead warrants, which was a document of what they were owed. But in North Dakota, the BNS paid their teachers in full. The main reason that the state could afford its commitments and programs even in bad times is that the federal taxes collected must be deposited in the bank to serve the public interest and protect the state economy.  

Among BND's commitments have been to provide student loans on favorable terms. The bank makes these loans directly without any middle man soaking up some of the profits. In fact, the bank provided its residents in 1967 with the very first federal insured loans to students.  

Particularly important has been the willingness to allow students to refinance their loans without imposing any fees. So if interest rates drop, students could save thousands of dollars by refinancing their loans. Also, for students who have several loans, they can be consolidated to one loan. In this instance also there are no fees. 

Especially important, by working closely with the state's small banks, the large national banks have been discouraged from competing with these more vulnerable institutions. In fact, it is the official policy of BND to avoid competition with other banks. As a result, the services it provides directly to residents other than making student loans is very limited.  

A major limitation for state residents is that the bank on behalf of the small banks deliberately has only one branch, which is in the state capital. So although BND offers saving and checking accounts, it is not useful except for those living nearby. Moreover, the BND does not offer residents ATM cards, debit and credit cards, and online bill paying service. Obviously, the objective is to encourage residents to use local banks for these retail services. 

Since the 1930s depression there have been many cities, including Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, Santa Fe, and San Francisco that have attempted to establish a state owned bank. But none could overcome the opposition of big business financial interests.  

But there has been recently an important development. Inspired by the BND's commitment to serving the public interest and its success in keeping the large banks from invading the state and doing mischief, several communities in the bay area have persuaded some legislators to advocate Assembly Bill AB 857, which would allow local governments in the bay area to create their own version of BND to strengthen local financial institutions and keeping public money in the local community. According to the law, communities cannot set up their own banks. The objective of AB 857 is to use local taxes to prevent the mega banks from enjoying record profits by financing and enabling fossil fuels, private prison, destruction of communities, engaging in fracking and other reprehensible activities. 

Unlike the North Dakota bank, which is state owned, AB 857 would empower municipalities to charter their own public banks. Among the cities that so far have expressed an interest in local banks that are owned and operated by the community are Oakland, Richmond, Berkeley, San 

These banks would provide affordable loans and lines of credit to local businesses and nonprofits and would increase the lending capacity of the local banking system. Also, unlike the BND, retail bank services would be available. 

Local banking systems that are democratically operated would be good for the economy and quality of life of their residents. If you share this perspective, please contact the city council in your own community to urge that they endorse AB 857. Also the state legislature must be vigorously lobbied to vote for the proposed ordinance.  

The state's legislators and governor have a moral obligation to protect communities against the financials villains who exploit the various municipalities for their own advantage. This is not just a political issue. It is a deeply moral one.a

New: Welcome to the Company Town - Housing for Teachers, But Not for You

Carol Denney
Sunday April 14, 2019 - 11:21:00 AM

They can't say it worked in West Virginia. When employers - the coal companies - owned the housing and the stores where workers bought equipment, food, and clothing, all it took was a whiff of union talk for management to whistle coal miners right out of a job, and sometimes coal miners' families out of a home. 

But memories are short on the west coast. The Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) is promoting a plan to cannibalize recreational and parking facilities and replace them with teachers-only housing, and even then for only a miniscule ratio of teachers burdened with long commutes. These are some of the same spaces they apparently can't imagine using to situate people living in RVs despite some of those people being teachers, students, and Berkeley employees. 

Let's be fair. All of our workforce is burdened by the highest rents in the nation and the choking commutes we face getting to and from work, or the venues we play as musicians. And with all due respect to teachers, is the argument that they are more important than police officers? Firefighters? More poorly paid than food workers, musicians, artists? Or students, for that matter? At least one commissioner on the Housing Advisory Board winced when this argument was made. 

Those who asked the obvious question at a recent presentation of the teachers-only housing proposal about what happens to one's housing if one takes a different job, or gets fired got a lot of "we'll see." Didn't we all pay for our schools and school property whether we have kids in public school or not? Shouldn't the whole community share any housing resources available, especially those made available with public funding? 

As respected as the teaching profession is, they are not our most vulnerable or most housing-challenged group. A recent city report clarifies that Berkeley has one segment of its population on track to never find housing without a radical reassessment of who benefits from our current housing opportunities, which underestimated homelessness at 1,000, rather than the more accurate number of 2,000, a group in which African Americans are wildly over-represented.  

Berkeley taxpayers should by all means support workforce housing, senior housing, and student housing. But ghettoizing these groups in class -specific or worker-specific buildings is unfair to the public whose dollars are building it if the housing benefit is hollowed out for only a few who will then lose their housing as soon as their status shifts. Our parks and recreational spaces, even our parking, needs to be carefully balanced with community needs. People who wonder why hurried measures to cram new-built housing into every backyard and median strip are right to question why parks and gardens are so easily considered frivolous or unimportant, considering that they were championed for all classes in the New Deal era when national poverty was at its worst. 

All housing built in Berkeley going forward should lean toward working incomes, all working incomes, and should set aside a generous ratio for those who will never otherwise catch up. If the collective decisions we make regarding our collective taxes don't benefit the predominately African American group our own city report describes as most in need after years of overt, racist redlining, it is the height of hypocrisy to restrict such benefits to a group which, in the City of Berkeley, is predominately white. 


DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Diego Garcia: “Unsinkable Carrier” Springs a Leak

Conn Hallinan
Thursday April 11, 2019 - 08:55:00 PM

The recent decision by the Hague-based International Court of Justice that the Chagos Islands—with its huge US military base at Diego Garcia—are being illegally occupied by the United Kingdom (UK) has the potential to upend the strategic plans of a dozen regional capitals, ranging from Beijing to Riyadh. 

For a tiny speck of land measuring only 38 miles in length, Diego Garcia casts a long shadow. Sometimes called Washington’s “unsinkable aircraft carrier,” planes and warships based on the island played an essential role in the first and second Gulf wars, the invasion aa Afghanistan and the war in Libya. Its strategic location between Africa and Indonesia and 1,000 miles south of India, gives the US access to the Middle East, Central and South Asia and the vast Indian Ocean. No oil tanker, no warship, no aircraft can move without its knowledge. 

Most Americans have never heard of Diego Garcia for a good reason: no journalist has been allowed there for more than 30 years and the Pentagon keeps the base wrapped in a cocoon of national security. Indeed, the UK leased the base to the Americans in 1966 without informing either the British Parliament or the US Congress. 

The Feb. 25 Court decision has put a dent in all that by deciding that Great Britain violated United Nations Resolution 1514 prohibiting the division of colonies before independence. The UK broke the Chagos Islands off from Mauritius, a former colony on the southeast coast of Africa that Britain decolonized in 1968. At the time, Mauritius objected, reluctantly agreeing only after Britain threatened to withdraw its offer of independence. 

The Court ruled 13-1 that the UK had engaged in a “wrongful act” and must decolonize the Chagos “as rapidly as possible.” 

While the ruling is only “advisory,” it comes at a time when the US and its allies are confronting or sanctioning countries for supposedly illegal occupations—Russia in the Crimea and China in the South China Sea. 

The suit was brought by Mauritius and some of the 1500 Chagos islanders, who were forcibly removed from the archipelago in 1973. The Americans, calling it “sanitizing” the islands, moved the Chogossians more than 1,000 miles to Mauritius and the Seychelles, where they have languished in poverty ever since. 

Diego Garcia is the lynchpin for US strategy in the region. With its enormous runways, it can handle B-52, B-1 and B-2 bombers and huge C-5M, C-17 and C-130 military cargo planes. The lagoon has been transformed into a naval harbor that can handle an aircraft carrier. The US has built a city—replete with fast food outlets, bars, golf courses and bowling alleys—that hosts some 3,000 to 5,000 military personal and civilian contractors. 

What you can’t find are any native Chogossians. 

The Indian Ocean has become a major theater of competition between India, the US, and Japan on one side, and the growing presence of China on the other. Tensions have flared between India and China over the Maldives and Sri Lanka, specifically China’s efforts to use ports on those island nations. India recently joined with Japan and the US in a war game—Malabar 18—that modeled shutting down the strategic Malacca Straits between Sumatra and Malaysia, through which some 80 percent of China’s energy supplies pass each year. 

A portion of the exercise involved anti-submarine warfare aimed at detecting Chinese submarines moving from the South China Sea into the Indian Ocean. To Beijing, those submarines are essential for protecting the ring of Chinese-friendly ports that run from southern China to Port Sudan on the east coast of Africa. Much of China’s oil and gas supplies are vulnerable, because they transit the narrow Mandeb Strait that guards the entrance to the Red Sea and the Strait of Hormuz that oversees access to the oil-rich Persian Gulf. The US 5th Fleet controls both straits. 

Tensions in the region have increased since the Trump administration shifted the focus of US national security from terrorism to “major power competition”—that is, China and Russia. The US accuses China of muscling its way into the Indian Ocean by taking over ports, like Hambantota in Sri Lanka and Gwadar in Pakistan that are capable of hosting Chinese warships. 

India, which has its own issues with China dating back to their 1962 border war, is ramping up its anti-submarine forces and building up its deep-water navy. New Delhi also recently added a long-range Agni-V missile that is designed to strike deep into China, and the rightwing government of Narendra Mori is increasingly chummy with the American military. The Americans even changed their regional military organization from “Pacific Command” to “Indo-Pacific Command” in deference to New Delhi. 

The term for these Chinese friendly ports—“string of pearls”—was coined by Pentagon contractor Booz Allen Hamilton and, as such, should be taken with a grain of salt. China is indeed trying to secure its energy supplies and also sees the ports as part of its worldwide Road and Belt Initiative trade strategy. But assuming the “pearls” have a military role, akin to 19th century colonial coaling stations, is a stretch. Most the ports would be indefensible if a war broke out. 

Diego Garcia is central to the US’s war in Somalia, its air attacks in Iraq and Syria, and its control of the Persian Gulf, and would be essential in any conflict with Iran. If the current hostility by Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US toward Iran actually translates into war, the island will quite literally be an unsinkable aircraft carrier. 

Given the strategic centrality of Diego Garcia, it is hard to imagine the US giving it up, or, rather, the British withdrawing their agreement with Washington and de-colonizing the Chagos Islands. In 2016, London extended the Americans’ lease for 20 years. 

Mauritius wants the Chagos back, but at this point doesn’t object to the base. It certainly wants a bigger rent check and the right eventually to take the island group back. It also wants more control over what goes on at Diego Garcia. For instance, the British government admitted that the Americans were using the island to transit “extraordinary renditions,” people seized during the Afghan and Iraq wars between 2002 and 2003, many of whom were tortured. Torture is a violation of international law. 

As for the Chogossians, they want to go back. 

Diego Garcia is immensely important for US military and intelligence operations in the region, but it is just one of some 800 American military bases on every continent except Antarctica. Those bases form a worldwide network that allows the US military to deploy advisors and Special Forces in some 177 countries across the globe. Those forces create tensions that can turn dangerous at a moment’s notice. 

For instance there are currently US military personal in virtually every country surrounding Russia: Norway, Poland, Hungary, Kosovo, Romania, Turkey, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Georgia, Ukraine and Bulgaria. Added to that is the Mediterranean’s 6th Fleet, which regularly sends warships into the Black Sea. 

Much the same can be said for China. US military forces are deployed in South Korea, Japan and Australia, plus numerous islands in the Pacific. The American 7th fleet, based in Hawaii and Yokohama, is the Navy’s largest. 

In late March, US Navy and Coast Guard ships transited the Taiwan Straits, which, while international waters, the Chinese consider an unnecessary provocation. British ships have also sailed close to Chinese-occupied reefs and islands in the South China Sea. 

The fight to de-colonize the Chagos Islands will now move to the UN General Assembly. In the end, Britain may ignore the General Assembly and the Court, but it will be hard pressed to make a credible case for doing so. How Great Britain can argue for international law in the Crimea and South China Sea, while ignoring the International Court of Justice on the Chagos, will require some fancy footwork. 

In the meantime, Mauritius Prime Minister Pravard Jugnauth calls the Court decision “historic,” and one that will eventually allow the 6,000 native Chagossians and their descendents “to return home”. 


Conn Hallinan can be read at dispatchesfromtheedgeblog.wordpress.com and middleempireseries.wordpress.com 


ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Prognoses and Prospects

Jack Bragen
Thursday April 11, 2019 - 09:00:00 PM

The norm of adult males with schizophrenia appears to be a lot of difficulty, sometimes to the point of disaster. I have heard numerous stories of tragedies befalling men with schizophrenia. The least of these is when we live peacefully and pass away relatively young, due to chronic health problems. Other individuals are not as fortunate. 

The term "abnormal" is used by professionals and others to describe people with schizophrenia. However, this word is offensive. 

It requires a lot of mental energy, a lot of effort, and a lot of consciousness to be able to fend off many of the bad effects and results of this illness. I've heard of a number of men with schizophrenia, and some women, passing away in their mid-forties due to heart attack or similar issues. 

I've heard of numerous people, both male and female, committing suicide, when they probably have a lot of their natural lifespan remaining. I've heard some stories of people becoming violent or committing offenses, causing them to be locked up in jail or prison on an indefinite basis--many are never released while living. 

Mental illnesses are serious, and they need to be addressed with seriousness. If you address the mental illness, you have a chance at living a productive life. Secondary are the chronic health problems that come with medication or that come with less complete self-care, compared to a non-afflicted person. 

Society might find it more convenient to allow mentally ill people to pass away young. They will not have to pay as much SSI, which is funded by taxpayers. They might believe that trying to help people with mental illness is a waste. The public perception of mentally ill people needs improvement. We may be the last group of which it is socially acceptable to hate, discriminate against, and sometimes ridicule. 

There appear to be mechanisms for removal of mentally ill people from society, so that we can be institutionalized, imprisoned, or otherwise rendered defunct. Society has boobytraps that are there by intention of social architects, or that have come about for unrelated reasons. For example, predatory lending. 

Someone could be removed from living among the mainstream, because they could not fulfill their responsibilities well enough, or because of inadvertently breaking a law. And then, there is outpatient institutionalization, which has an effect of segregating and pacifying mentally ill adults, while providing us, admittedly, with necessary help. 

It would be nice to think that mentally ill people have a shot at living in comfort and enjoyment, that we could have a shot at owning a house with a white picket fence, that we have a chance at finding the mate of our dreams, and of having kids that we could put through college, and grandkids. I haven't seen that happen, in the more than thirty years that I have participated in the mental health treatment system. 

I have seen a few who turned out to be misdiagnosed, who got out and achieved the above. But for those who've been institutionalized long-term, it seems that we have to lower our sights to something realistically achievable. 

Either this is okay, or it isn't. But it is so. How we process this is up to us. We may have to settle for enjoying things on a smaller scale. Reading a book in a chair with a caffeinated beverage is a way of getting enjoyment. If one has a ping-pong table available, it is another avenue of pleasure. Illicit drugs are to be avoided. I suggest not trying them in the first place. 

If we show people that we can cooperate, can actively manage our condition, and can act according to most people's expectations, things will be better than they would otherwise be. We may need to please others even if we aren't always inclined to do that. 

Is there any hope of things being better? E. Fuller Torrey, renowned psychiatrist and author, believes that more money should be directed toward developing better drugs for schizophrenia than is currently being spent. I agree with that. However, society should make an effort at creating jobs for mentally ill people. Mentally ill people can do a lot of useful and creative things, when we are in environments that aren't excessively demanding. This doesn't have to be a bottomless pit into which money is thrown out. It is potentially profitable to employ mentally ill people. What really stands in the way is human ignorance, and not that mentally ill people can't do a job. We can. 

Who is it truly up to if we want things to be better for mentally ill people? To an extent, it is up to we, ourselves. No one is going to hand us a better life just because we think they ought to. We have to create that. Is this asking the impossible? Maybe and maybe not. 



ECLECTIC RANT: 25TH Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide

Ralph E. Stone
Thursday April 11, 2019 - 08:42:00 PM

April 7, 2019, marked the 25th anniversary of what we now know as the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. It was just one episode in the 20th century Hutu-Tutsi conflict in that part of the world, from the slaughter of 80,000 to 200,000 Hutus by the Tutsi army in Burundi in 1972, to the 1994 Rwandan Genocide of more than 800,000 to 1 million Rwandans — both Tutsis and Hutus — in just 100 days. 

In 2004, my wife and I visited Rwanda primarily to visit the mountain gorillas in Volcanoe National Park. We also visited the Kigali Memorial Centre (the so-called Genocide Museum). 

The antagonism between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda and Burundi is not a tribal conflict or really an ethnic conflict. Hutus and Tutsis have the same language, the same religion, and the same culture. The Hutu-Tutsi strife stems from class warfare, with the Tutsis perceived to have greater wealth and social status (as well as favoring cattle ranching over what is seen as the lower-class farming of the Hutus). 

The conflict leading up to the beginning of the genocide in Rwanda was a political power between the Hutu-led coalition government of Juvénal Habyarimana supported by France and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) backed Tutsi forces backed financially and militarily by the United States. The Hutu-Tutsi rivalry was used deliberately in the pursuit of U.S. strategic and geopolitical objectives by establishing a U.S. sphere of influence in Central Africa, a region historically dominated by France and Belgium. What was at stake? The region's vast geostrategic mineral wealth, i.e., cobalt, oil, natural gas, copper, uranium, tin, coltan, cassiterite, gold, and diamonds,  

In April 1994, the plane carrying Rwandan President Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down, creating a power vacuum in Rwanda. This was the catalyst for the genocide. It is still uncertain who was responsible for downing the plane although many blamed Paul Kagame’s RPF.  

According to In Praise of Blood: The Crimes of the Rwandan Patriotic Front by Judi Rever, the RPF incited Hutus to commit massacres against Tutsi civilians. In some cases, she writes, the RPF even actively killed Tutsi villagers in staged attacks that were blamed on Hutu mobs. 

By July 1994, the Kagame-led RPF completed its coup d’etat and consolidated its power in Rwanda. Kagame has became president-for-life, crushing opposition and dissent to retain his power.  

Kagame’s government has manipulated public sympathy by promoting a highly politicized ideology of the 1994 genocide. Anyone who challenges the official story is branded a "genocide negativist," a "genocide revisionist," or "killers of remembrance" by the Kagame regime. 

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Friday April 12, 2019 - 12:04:00 PM

Trump and Free Speech

Donald Trump recently threatened to cut UC Berkeley's federal funds if the campus administration failed to honor Trump's concept of "free speech" on campus. But Trump's decree was basically an exercise in empty rhetoric because (1) UC Berkeley already has long-standing policies to protect free-speech and (2) already allocated federal funds cannot be withheld by a decree from the Offal Orifice . . . . ummm, excuse me: I meant Oval Office.

Irony, thy name is Trump.

At the same time DJT pretends to be an advocate of "free speech," he continues to silence and muzzle the government's own research scientists. From NASA and NOAA to the EPA, professional scientists have been ordered not to speak or write the words "climate change" or "global warming." Those phrases—and any research addressing these existential planetary threats—have now been officially scrubbed from government websites and reports. 

AI Achieves Something Really Dumb 

What is it about some people (male nerds, usually) that they are addicted to the pursuit of replacing humans with machines? The Los Angeles Times offers this latest example: "It may sound like science fiction, but the idea of using computers to help write scripts and other tasks is gaining serious traction in Hollywood." 

In this case, IBM's supercomputer, Watson, was hired to write a script for a car ad staring a Lexus ES. Watson studied a collection of award-winning TV commercials and came up with the following 60-second tale of love, loss, risk, challenge, heroism, and redemption. Does this spark joy? 


Breitbart Targets Barbara Lee 

After East Bay Congresswoman Barbara Lee tweeted about the serious threat of climate change, the right-wing newsmongers at Breitbart attacked her. Breitbart (which routinely disparages the Green New Deal as “radical,” crazy, left-wing extremism) resorted to name-calling—but the best they could come up with was to call Rep. Lee a “climate believer.” 

Team Lee responded: "Well, guess what? She is [a climate-change believer]—along with the majority of Americans. So if that’s all they got — bring it on." 

Breitbart also has tweet-dissed the GND as Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez's "signature '12 years until climate change' doomsday scenario." Wait a minute, not-so-Brightbart: the 12-year doomsday warning didn't come from AOC, it comes from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  

Climate change is a real and escalating threat. Rising seas, rampaging storms, and raging wildfires are already destroying homes and claiming lives. Unless we act, our children and grandchildren are toast. Literally. 

Team Lee issued the following statement: "Barbara is a proud co-sponsor of the Green New Deal because she knows it will upgrade our infrastructure, create millions of good-paying jobs, and move us toward 100% renewable energy. But despite the data, President Trump and his Republican cronies are content with destroying our environment and our future—as long as they get a special-interest-backed check to go with it." 

Public Citizen De-voiced by DeVos 

According to Public Citizen, a leading public advocacy organization founded by Ralph Nader, Betsy DeVos Department of Education is blocking visitors and employees from accessing the organization's website. Visitors attempting to access Public Citizen’s though the department’s public wireless networks only receive a message that warns access is “in violation of your Internet usage policy.”  

"This is a blatant violation of the First Amendment," says Public Citizen president Robert Weissman. As Weissman notes: "Our website contains lots of information critical of DeVos and the department. This material includes a cutting-edge report that shows how the department mismanaged teacher grant programs and threw thousands of teachers into debt. And it includes information on our lawsuits against the department for unlawfully trying to delay or roll back protections for victims of predatory for-profit colleges."  

DeVos has not responded to PC's complaints. 

Bernie Bans Warbucks 

Bernie Sanders has called for the US to end the Korean War. On the other hand, Bernie refused to meet with Veterans For Peace Chapter 57 in Vermont. He continues to support the Pentagon's fleet of F-35 nuclear bombers (due to arrive at Burlington Vermont Airport later this year). World BEYOND War activist Alice Slater writes: "If you get a chance, ask [Bernie] why he supports a wasteful nuclear-capable bomber at all, never mind in Vermont. " 

Breaking News: The Sanders Campaign has just announced it has signed on to CODEPINK's Divestment Pledge, promising to accept NO contributions from the US weapons industry. 

This is big news, says Peace Action's Kevin Martin. "As good as [Sanders] is on many issues," Martin writes, Bernie "was #2, after only Lindsey Graham, in terms of 2016 prez candidates' campaign contributions from weapons manufacturers, taking well over $100K, if memory serves. So this is potentially very significant." 

But is it OK to accept donations from employees of these companies? 

Just Foreign Policy Director Robert Reuel Naiman proposes the following:
[T]hey can take donations from employees of weapons manufacturers, but the maximum donation from them is $27, or the current average contribution from all individual donors, whichever is greater. They can take donations from employees of weapons manufacturers, but not "unusually big ones". . . . So, let them donate. But not more than their fellow citizens are donating.  

Warren and War and Peace 

CODEPINK's next challenge could be Elizabeth Warren. On April 11, the Massachusetts Senator sent out a stunning proposal for a "Real Corporate Profits Tax" that would put an end to a system where major US corporations that make billions in profits pay zero dollars in federal taxes. Unfortunately, in the course of explaining her new proposal, Warren included the following: 

It’s almost Tax Day, and chances are you’ll be paying federal taxes this year. Maybe it’s a lot, maybe it’s a little. But chances are you’ll be kicking in something for our military, for medical research, for highways and bridges — the kinds of investments our federal government makes to defend our country and strengthen our economy. 

Sadly, this reveals that Warren is not only a believer in "markets," but she is also oddly comfortable with US militarism. Warren accepts the proposition that the Pentagon exists to "defend our country" from foreign attacks when the opposite it true—the Pentagon spends most of its time targeting other countries with attacks that lack legal standing or moral justification. 

Warren is right to target the large corporations that dominate our economy, our laws, and our culture. But Warren is wrong to draw an equivalence between Pentagon spending and investments in "medical research, for highways and bridges." Some of our largest and most politically powerful corporations directly prosper by supporting the War Machine and it's business plan for "Regime Change" and "Forever Wars." 

Or, as CODEPINK puts it: "Making a killing from killing." 

Fiat Lux or Fiat Nukes? 

In February, the Trump Pentagon (in profitable cahoots with the US Arms Barons) began producing the W76-2, a "new generation" of nuclear doomsday weapon. Because these bombs are less than a third the size of the bomb that vaporized Hiroshima, the psychopaths that work for the Military-Industrial-Complex are promoting these weapons as "low-yield" devices that are more "usable" than the city-killing A-bombs of yore. 

The insanely misnamed "National Nuclear Security Administration" praises these weapons for being "highly targetable" and "concealable." Despite their smaller size, each "low-yield" W76-2 has half the destructive power of the nuclear blast that erased Hiroshima. 

The high-tech nuke-terrorists behind the W76-2 are also hard at work refining the tailfin design for another atomic weapon—the B61-12. This horrific killing device is also being hailed for being more "usable"—and it even comes with a convenient "dial-a-yield" feature. 

So who's making the big bucks off these small-but-mighty bombs? The usual unsung heroes of the Apocalypse—Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Bechtel, General Dynamics, Honeywell, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon. 

But let's not fail to notice the historic ontributions of the University of California and its Lawrence Livermore National Labs {LLNL). On hand for the roll out of the first W72-2 at the Pentagon's Pantex bomb-plant in Texas, was the director of LLNL, as well as the directors of the Los Alamos and Sandia national labs. LLNL's PR department puts a nice spin on its potentially world-ending labors by describing LLNL's employees as "Stewards of the nuclear deterrent... [working to] deliver solutions for the nation's most challenging security problems." 

Looking for a hero among all these these dark doings? Here's one: Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.)—who became chair of the House Armed Services Committee after Democrats took control of the House in the November 2018 midterm elections—has vowed to cancel the W76-2. 

Tax Time: How to Hack and Attack the War Machine 

Every year at this time, a determined group of peace-loving citizens takes a stand against Washington's military empire by nonviolently refusing to pay taxes. Some refuse all federal taxes; some refuse to pay an amount equal to the Pentagon's current 61 percent slice of the budget's $1.17 trillion discretionary-spending pie. 

It seems like a daunting course, to stand up to the IRS. But (speaking as a Vietnam-era tax resister) it's not necessarily as perilous as one might fear. Here is a timely note from my colleague, Jim Haber, a contemporary war-tax resister: 

"Please, don’t fear the IRS like they are really going to hurt you. They can harass, of course, but they don’t suddenly garnish your wages. Mostly they send notices, or more often, but still not frequently, phone calls. And when they 'assigned' my case to a private collection agency, their ability to harass me or take my money decreased!" 

Jim offers the following suggestions for standing up to the War Machine: "Check out the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC) for a wealth of info, stories, and counseling. The People’s Life Fund offers counseling and education on various forms of war tax resistance." 

War Tax Resistance Granting Ceremony 

In league with NWTRCC, the People’s Life Fund presents annual tax-day peace-grants—funded with money war-tax-resisters have deposited in a trust account (instead of writing a check to the IRS). Some money is placed in escrow accounts (for use if and when the IRS comes knocking). The interest from these deposits (along with outright donations) is used to make grants to outstanding peace groups around the country. 

This Sunday April 14 at 3 PM in Berkeley's Fellowship Hall, the People’s Life Fund will host their annual War Tax Resistance Granting Ceremony. After a community potluck, PLF will distribute $15,000 to local organizations doing peace and social justice work. The Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists (BFUU) has long hosted this inspiring event. Suggested sliding scale donation $20 - $5 for building maintenance and to support BFUU's Social Justice work. (No one turned away for lack of funds.)
US Teetering on Brink of Internal War? 

On April 11, the Democratic National Committee sent out a nationwide phone alert to announce: "We just launched the DNC War Room, a unit dedicated to holding Trump accountable and getting him out of the White House." According to NBC, The Democratic National Committee (DNC) plans to target small- and mid-sized communities with a campaign highlighting promises it says President Trump has failed to keep." 

It's been a hard week. With the conclusion of the Mueller investigation, we thought the walls were starting to close in on Trump (and The Donald seemed to think so, too). Then came Bill Barr's 4-page brief and Trump's shouts of "exoneration!" 

This was soon followed by an onslaught of bad news. WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning was sent back to solitary. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was rousted from Britain's Ecuadorian Embassy and faces deportation to the US. Stormy Daniels Attorney Michael Avenatti was simultaneously hit with federal charges from agents on both the East and West coasts—and now faces an additional 36 criminal charges. Progressive Congressional Representatives Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are being targeted by rightwing, Trump-loving trolls and are receiving record numbers of death threats. 

What's next? Will Vladimir Putin hand Edward Snowden over to Trump? Will Trump order the Justice Department to arrest Hillary Clinton? 

Rally 'Round the Real Deal 

Berkeley will host a Green New Deal Town Hall with the Gray Panthers at 1:30PM on April 24 at the South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis St. There will be a follow-up Town Hall on the UC campus on May 2, 6PM, in Barrows Hall. 


Arts & Events

New: Emanuel Ax Excels in Brahms’ 2nd Piano Concerto

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Wednesday April 17, 2019 - 03:24:00 PM

In concerts this weekend, April 11-14, pianist Emanuel Ax joined the San Francisco Symphony in performances of Johannes Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat Major, Opus 83. Paired with this work was the tone-poem Die Seejungfrau /The Mermaid by Alexander Zemlinsky. Conducting was Andrey Boreyko, the new Music and Artistic Director of Warsaw Philharmonic.  

I must begin by taking issue with the Chronicle’s music critic Joshua Kosman, who dismissed both the SF Symphony and Emanuel Ax for a performance of the Brahms 2nd Piano Concerto which Kosman labeled as “bombast – a dense, dark mass of sound from orchestra and soloist alike through which the composer’s elegant balances struggled to emerge.” Unless the Thursday evening performance Kosman attended was radically different from what I heard on Friday evening, Kosman couldn’t be more off base.  

Or, let’s put it this way: if you want Brahms to be fastidious and reserved, as Kosman seems to wish, this was decidedly not your cup of tea. Instead, this was to me the most exciting rendition of the Brahms 2nd Piano Concerto I’ve heard in a long time. Emanuel Ax was astounding! His technique was flawless, and he managed to emphasize the intricate relationship Brahms sought in this concerto between piano and orchestra. Moreover, Ax did so even in passages where his piano had to make itself heard alongside fortissimo passages in the full orchestra. This is no mean feat; and for Kosman to dismiss in a single, short paragraph this accomplishment, indeed, the whole performance of this concerto, as “bombast” is to my mind unconscionable.  

Unlike Kosman, the audience recognized and appreciated that it was hearing an exciting performance of Brahms’ 2nd Piano Concerto, for they enthusiastically applauded each individual movement, as did, by the way, the audience at this work’s early performances in Austria and Germany. The first two movements are full of bravado and close with exciting climaxes. The third movement, a slow Andante, features a lovely cello solo, beautifully rendered here by Peter Wyrick, who traded intimate melodies with pianist Emanuel Ax throughout this movement. The fourth and final movement features Hungarian rhythms and melodies, vigorously performed here by orchestra and soloist under the direction of Andrey Boreyko. 

After intermission, the orchestra launched into a multi-colored rendition of Alexander Zemlinky’s Die Seejungfrau/The Mermaid, a work composed in 1902-3, then revised for its premiere in Vienna’s Musikverein in 1905. This tone-poem, based on the tale by Hans Christian Anderson, evokes the underwater world of a young mermaid who rescues a handsome prince from a shipwreck, becomes smitten with the prince, and seeks to become human so she might be wedded to the prince. However, once back on terra firma the prince falls in love with a woman he sees at a religious procession, and marries her instead of the mermaid, whose unrequited longing is movingly portrayed in the third and final section of this work. At the time of this work’s composition, Zemlinsky himself was experiencing unrequited longing for Alma Schindler, who ended her affair with Zemlinsky to marry Gustav Mahler.  

The work opens by evoking the murky depths of the ocean. Then a lovely melody for solo violin conjures up the young mermaid. Concertmaster Alexander Barantschik’s playing of this violin solo movingly brought to life a nubile, fifteen year-old mermaid eager to experience the world. Orchestral colors and textures render the undulating currents of the ocean, then evoke the drama of a storm at sea and a shipwreck, which becomes the occasion of the mermaid’s rescue of the handsome prince. Part Two of this work depicts the hunting and dancing activities of the prince’s court, plus his meeting with the woman he marries. Part Three is dominated by the unrequited longing of the mermaid for her prince, though she is granted an apotheosis at the end and rises above the waves to achieve immortality among the creatures of the air. Conductor Andrey Boreyko was obviously strongly committed to this Zemlinsky work, and he led a robust rendition of it.  


The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, April 14-21

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday April 13, 2019 - 03:27:00 PM

Worth Noting:

City Council is on Spring Recess until April 22. City Council Agenda for April 23 is available for comment (agenda highlights and link follows calendar)

City Council 1000 Person Plan scheduled for April 30 at 4:30 pm,

General information including the Land Use Calendar, tentative schedule of City Council work sessions, boards and commissions delinquent in posting meeting minutes and links to BUSD and regional meetings are posted at the bottom after the summary of next week’s meetings.

Sunday, April 14, 201

Egg Dyeing and Water Games – Ages 3-12, 12 – 1:30 pm, at King Pool,


Monday, April 15, 2019 

Agenda and Rules Committee, Monday, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm, at 2180 Milvia, 6th Floor Redwood Conf Room, Agenda: Planning for April 30 City Council regular meeting, Consent 2. No cost spay, neuter to eligible pet owners, 3. Public Art Guidelines, 4. Berkeley Food and Housing Project, 5. – 8. Software maintenance/support contracts, 9. $1,101,000 contract for Berkeley Marina Area Specific Plan (BMASP) w/Hargreaves Assoc 10. Charter Bus Services Echo Lake Camp, 11. Proposed Road Projects to utilize CA Transportation funding. 18. New Marina Fee So Cove Parking Lots, 19. FlixBus – Long distance bus service to the public, 20. Appeal ZAB 2700 Pardee Parking, 1050 Parker Medical Office Building, 21. Zoning Ordinance Inclusionary Housing Regulation to Contiguous Lots under Common Control or Ownership, 22. Feedback to Berkeley Police regarding stop data f/u Policing Equity Report Recommendations, Action: 23. Arreguin as alternate to Budget Committee, 24. BUSD Employee Housing, 25. Affordable Housing for Homeless, 26. Inclement Weather Shelter at Old City Hall, 27. Referral to Planning Development of Policies to Prevent Displacement and Gentrification 28. Good Food Purchasing, 29. Referral Pedestrian Corridors – Street to Plaza* 


Design Review Committee, 11 am at 2501 Haste Street, Agenda: Review colors, materials for project onsite, https://www.cityofberkeley.info/uploadedFiles/Planning_and_Development/Level_3_-_Commissions/Design_Review_Committee/2018-10-26_DRCF_2501%20Haste_Drawings.pdf 


Loan Administration Board, 12 pm, at 2180 Milvia, 1st Floor, Cypress Room, Agenda: Council referral to Support Worker Owned Cooperatives thru changes to RLF Administrative Plan based on Sustainable Economies Law Center recommendations 


Tax the Rich Rally, with music by Occupella, 5 – 6 pm at the Top of Solano in front of the Closed Oaks Theater, Rain Cancels 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019 

Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board - Tenant Rights Workshop, 6 – 7:30 pm, at 2090 Kittredge, Central Library, 3rd Floor, 


Wednesday, April 17, 2019 

Commission on Aging, 1 – 3 pm at 2939 Ellis St, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: 6. Letter to support the Missing Middle, 7. Electric Scooter Share Program, 8. Pedestrian Safety, https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/Commissions/Commissions__Commission_on_Aging_Homepage.aspx 

Human Welfare & Community Action Commission, 7 – 9 pm at 2939 Ellis St, South Berkeley Senior Center, Agenda: 5. Presentation Michael Harank – Positive Behavior, 6. Case of Mr. Leonard Powell, 7. Vacant Housing, 8. Budget Review, 9. 2018 Health Status report, 10. 1000 Person Plan to Address Homelessness, 11. “Baby Bond” 


Thursday, April 18, 2019 

Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, 7 – 11 pm, 1231 Addison St, No Agenda posted check before going https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Rent_Stabilization_Board/Home/2019_Board_Meetings.aspx 

Design Review Committee, 7 – 10 pm at 1947 Center St, Basement Multi-purpose Room, 


2556 Telegraph – demolish existing 2-story commercial building with 16,000 sq ft commercial space and construct 5-story mixed use with 22 dwellings, 2-live work and 5094 sq ft commercial space – committee decision 

2072 Addison – final review – demolish 1-story commercial and construct 7-story mixed use with 66 dwelling units 

1951 Shattuck – demolish 2 commercial buildings and construct 120 foot, 12 story mixed use with 5000 sq ft commercial, 156 residential units, 100 space subterranean garage 

Fair Campaign Practices Commission, 7 pm at 2180 Milvia, Cypress Room, Agenda: 7. Proposed Amendments for 2020 election cycle, 8. Reconsider dismissal of Jesse Arreguin alleged violations, 9. Potential violation by Lacey, 10. Draft negotiated stipulation with Droste, 11. Potential violation by Greg Magofina 


Open Government Commission, 7:30 or 8 pm at 2180 Milvia, 1st Floor, Cypress Room, Agenda: 7. Compliance with draft minutes requirements 


Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Product Panel of Experts, 6:30 – 9 pm at 2939 Ellis St, South Berkeley Senior Center, No Agenda posted check before going 


Transportation Commission, 7 – 10 pm at 1326 Allston Way, Corp Yard, Building A Willow Room, Agenda: B.1. Presentation San Pablo Ave Corridor Project, 2. Bike Share Phase 2, 3. Vision Zero update 


Friday, April 19, 2019 – Passover begins 

No City meetings or events found 

Saturday, April 20, 2019 

Earth Day Shoreline Cleanup 9 – 11:30 am at 160 University @ Seawall Dr., Shorebird Park Nature Center 


Spring Egg Hunt Extravaganza, 9:30 am – 1 pm, at 2730 Hillegass Ave @ Russell, Willard Park, 


Sunday, April 21, 2019 

No City meetings or events found 




City Council April 23 meeting available for comment, Agenda: Consent11. Paving/Grading contract, 19. U1 Funds – 2001 Ashby, 20. Good Government Ombudsman, 21. Zero Emission Bills AB 40, AB 1418, 29. Referral Reform Affordable Housing Mitigation Fee, Action: 31. ZAB appeal 1722 Walnut, 32. Missing Middle Housing Report Referral, 33. Volunteer initiative Adopt a Spot, 34. Standby Officer Policy, 35. Paid Family Leave, 36. Protected Milvia Bikeway Pilot Project University – Allston, Information: 37. Ethical Climate Audit Status Report. 





*Agenda Committee Unfinished business for scheduling – 1. a.&b. U1 Funds for Property Acquisition at 1001, 1007, 1011 University, 1925 Ninth Street, 2. Revisions to Ordinance 7,521 BMC. To increase compliance with short-term rental ordinance, 3. Disposition City-owned Former Redevelopment Agency Properties at 1631 & 1654 Fifth St, 4. Economic Dashboards, 5. Referral to City Manager and budget for creation of “vehicle dweller program” 





City Council Special Meeting, 6 pm, May 9, at Longfellow Middle School – watch calendar for updates 





Public Hearings Scheduled – Land Use Appeals 

1722 Walnut – rescheduled – 4-23-2019 

1050 Parker – Parker – Medical Office Building - 4-30-2019 no longer listed on calendar 

2700 Tenth – Pardee Parking Lot - 4-30-2017 

1444 Fifth St – 4 single family dwellings - 5-14-2019 

Notice of Decision (NOD) With End of Appeal Period 

3212 Adeline (add service distilled spirits) – 4-17-2019 

2518 Durant (add service distilled spirits) – 4-17-2019 

2300 Shattuck (Structural Alteration) LPC 4-23-2019 

1414 Walnut (Structural Alteration) LPC 4-23-2019 

Remanded to ZAB or LPC With 90-Day Deadline 

1155-73 Hearst (develop 2 parcels) – ZAB 5-19-2019 

2701 Shattuck (construct 5-story mixed-use building) – ZAB 6-30-2019 




May 7 – Proposed FY 2020-FY 2021 Budget, Zero Waste Rate Review, Bond Disclosure Training 

June 18 –Green Stormwater Infrastructure, Arts and Culture Plan 

Sept 17 –UC Berkeley Student Housing Plan, Transfer station feasibility Study, Adeline Corridor Plan 

Oct 22 – Berkeley’s 2020 Vision Update, Census 2020 Update, Short term Rentals 

Nov 5 - Zero Waste Rate Review, Vision Zero Action Plan, 

Unscheduled – Cannabis Health Considerations 



May 1 and 3 @ Budget Committee – Parks, Recreation, and Waterfront CIP Update, Public Works CIP Update 

May 28 – tentative EBMUD presentation 



To Check For Regional Meetings with Berkeley Council Appointees go to 



To check for Berkeley Unified School District Board Meetings go to 





Boards and Commission Delinquent in Publishing Meeting Minutes within two weeks of meeting. (page 35 Commissioner’s Manual – Secretary Responsibility) 


Board of Library Trustees, meeting March 6, no minutes posted on March 22 



Children, Youth and Recreation Commission - no minutes posted for 2019 in table, minutes for prior meeting only available with agendas upcoming meeting.  


Commission on Disability, March 6 minutes not available to the public on March 29, note with agenda March minutes will not be available until May meeting packet 


Community Environmental Advisory Commission - meeting March 14 - no minutes March 29  


Community Health Commission, meeting February 28, no minutes posted March 22, this commission is doing better with March 28 meeting minutes available when checked April 5. 


Parks and Waterfront Commission, meeting 3-13-2019, no minutes on March 29  


Peace and Justice Commission, meeting March 4, no minutes on March 29 


Commission on Labor, meeting March 20, no minutes on April 5 


Commission on the Status of Women, meeting March 20, no minutes on April 5 


Loan Administration Board, meeting March 18, no minutes on April 5 


Transportation Commission, meeting March 21, no minutes posted April 5 


Youth Commission, meeting listed as occurring March 11, however, no accessible agenda, no minutes, no cancellation notice 


Civic Arts Commission - meeting March 27, no minutes April 12 


Energy Commission - meeting March 27, no minutes April 12 


Joint Subcommittee for the Implementation of State Housing Laws - meeting March 27, no minutes April 12 


Landmarks Preservation Commission - meeting March 7 no meeting minutes posted April 12 


Solano Avenue Business Improvement District Advisory Board - meeting March 26, no minutes April 12 


Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Product Panel of Experts - meeting March 21, no meeting minutes April 12 




City Council - joint meetings with no draft Minutes 

City/UC/Student relations Committee - meeting Feb 8, no minutes April 12 

4x4 Joint Task Force on Housing: Rent Board/City Council - meeting Mar 4, no minutes April 12 

3x3 Berkeley City Council and Berkeley Housing Authority - meeting March 6 no minutes April 12 

2x2 Committee City Council and Board of Education - meeting June 28, 2018 no minutes April 12 




This meeting list is also posted on the Sustainable Berkeley Coalition website. 

http://www.sustainableberkeleycoalition.com/whats-ahead.html and in the Berkeley Daily Planet under activist’s calendar http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com 


When notices of meetings are found that are posted after Friday 5:00 pm they are added to the website schedule https://www.sustainableberkeleycoalition.com/whats-ahead.html and preceded by LATE ENTRY