Updated: The 2211 Harold Way Project is Off

Tuesday December 31, 2019 - 07:45:00 PM

The Planet has learned that the would-be developers of the project planned for 2211 Harold Way, which called for the demolition of the building which houses the Shattuck Cinemas, failed to pay necessary fees to complete filing the application for a building permit by today's deadline.

On New Year's Eve at 1:02:46 p.m., developer Joe Penner said this in an email to expediter Mark Rhoades and Steven Buckley of the City of Berkeley's Planning Department:

"The city believed that development projects are a never ending piggy bank they can continue to raid.

Now the city will get zero."

This means that this project, in the works since 2015, is essentially off. The use permit granted by the previous majority on the Berkeley City Council has now lapsed, and a new project would be subject to a number of new city requirements added to combat climate change,including all-electric utilities. It would also need new approvals for requested changes which proponents claimed were needed to ensure profitability, including fewer units and six instead of ten theaters. -more-

Public Comment

Women Take on Corporate Predators

Ethel Long-Scott
Monday December 30, 2019 - 03:56:00 PM

The ugly daily reality of the nationwide housing crisis is forcing new leaders to organize around the vision of housing as a human right. Oakland’s #moms4housing is a protest against global corporate investment groups that are buying up and hoarding housing – NOT to shelter people but to shelter billions in investment money while sprawling homeless encampments grow nearby, along with sky high rents and housing insecurity.

No political party protects workers from the death grip of corporate predators. A national epidemic of evictions, homelessness, and housing insecurity is spreading to every region of the country. In California, over half of renters pay over one third of their income for housing, and over a third pay more than half. Hundreds of thousands are homeless.

To build an effective movement we need to understand the real cause — the capitalist economy that is failing us. Why? Because automation dominates the production of things everywhere across the world. Robots cost less than human workers, so jobs are disappearing as we speak, and they are not coming back. Together these situations have caused the rise of the broadest and deepest movement for housing in the history of the U.S. Oakland’s #moms4housing are the latest expression toward unity that are beginning to overcome the scattered, divided, and localized nature that has characterized the struggle so far. Women are standing against corporate predators and taking steps toward a new economy that puts human beings and the planet first. -more-

Stuart Baker and the Telegraph Business Improvement District Are Trying to Un-Park a Park

Carol Denney
Sunday December 29, 2019 - 01:58:00 PM

After over three months of stalling, the City of Berkeley has partially fulfilled my Public Records Act Request regarding the de-benching and fencing off of Triangle Park at the intersection of Telegraph and Dwight, which originated as Herrick Peace and Freedom Park in 1968.

I received a copy of this September 12 email on this topic this week in response to my request:

From: stuart@telegraphberkeley.org

To: "Dandelion Harris"

"Berkeley Hat Company"

"Daryn Singh"

"Indigo Vintage"

CC: "Jeff Gilbert"

"Tinney, Sean"

"Robinson, Rigel"

"Hollander, Eleanor"

"Klein, Jordan"

Date: 9/12/2019 10:26: 19 AM

Subject: Update on the Triangle


As many of you have noticed, the City removed the bench in the Dwight Triangle yesterday. After meeting with the City Attorney, BPD found that in order to correctly classify the space as a traffic median (technically a divisional island), the pay phone will also need to be removed. Basically everything has to go that would signal that this is a place to spend time. Until then, nothing has changed in terms of designation.

The berm creation process is underway but I should caution you that if have hope that it'll happen in the next month or so. It won't. Before the first shovel goes in the ground, the City needs to reestablish the island as a no-hang out zone. BPD plans to do this through upped enforcement of existing laws against drinking, dogs, and smoking in the general area. Once that has been reestablished we can start building. We have selected an landscape architect and are starting the process of getting all the City approvals.

Please let me know if you have any questions.



With no knowledge of these plans for the park, I wrote this open letter to the Berkeley City Council on September 15, which I followed by the Public Records Act request.

The unnoticed removal of the Triangle Park bench at Dwight Way and Telegraph Avenue violates our city code, specifically Chapter 6.42, Public Parks and Open Space Preservation, which clearly states that "no public parks (hereinafter defined) or public open space (hereinafter defined) owned or controlled or leased by the City or agency thereof, shall be used for any other purpose than public parks and open space, without the Berkeley City Council first having submitted such use to the citizens for approval by a majority of registered Berkeley voters voting at the next general election..."

After reading this email, it's apparent that Telegraph Business Improvement District is clearly trying to re-designate the park as a median strip without the city-wide vote required by Measure L after having put in - and then furiously removed - benches, sculpture, a pay phone, planters, etc. all at public expense.

Triangle Park was a forerunner of the many user-developed parks which followed it, including Halcyon Commons, People's Park, Ohlone Park, Peralta Community Garden in honor of Karl Linn, and more. The BID's objections to the park's current use are that people smoke there, drink there, and bring dogs(?).

Most parks have these occasional problems, easily addressed with signage, outreach, education and enforcement.We don't destroy our parks if they are occasionally misused. And Measure L precludes their destruction.

Is your Business Improvement District out of control? If it is dedicated to destroying open space it is. Open space in Berkeley is protected. Tell your City Council that park destruction is not on the agenda. -more-


Berkeley Needs Full-Spectrum Access

Becky O'Malley
Sunday December 15, 2019 - 10:59:00 AM

There’s an excellent letter to the Berkeley City Council in today’s issue from Helen Walsh and Mary Behm-Steinberg which calls attention to the city of Berkeley’s neglect of appropriate accommodations for people with mobility problems and other disabilities. I particularly appreciate it since I banged up a leg when I tripped on a porch stair, and have needed to use a cane and even a walker to get around for several months. I go to a fair number of meetings with a city planning focus, and what I’ve belated started to notice is how little attention is paid to the needs of people with intermediate levels of mobiity impairments.

It turns out that there are lots of stages between riding a bicycle around town and using a power wheelchair. I’m so old that I’m a year or two ahead of the enormous boomer demographic, but right behind me there are a whole lot more folks who are going to need some help getting around, if they don’t already. I’m getting around better these days, but I’m under no illusion that full mobility lasts forever for most of us. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Time Off Time

Becky O'Malley
Sunday December 29, 2019 - 04:09:00 PM

As some readers have noticed, I've been taking some time off from editorial duties. I've tried to keep up to date with posting submissions, but there are some good ones still in the pipeline. Next week or even sooner I hope to catch up. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE: 2019: Ten Reasons to be Thankful

Bob Burnett
Friday December 27, 2019 - 11:23:00 AM

2019 has been a dark year. Americans have spent much of the year under the grim shadow cast by mad emperor Trump. Nonetheless, there is much to be thankful for. Here are ten reasons to be grateful.

1.Nancy Pelosi: Twelve months ago, when it was clear that the Democrats had won a substantial majority in the House of Representatives, some pundits suggested that it was time for Nancy Pelosi to move on -- someone else should become Speaker of the House.

What a mistake that would have been! During 2019, Pelosi has been the primary leader of the Democratic Party, effectively leading the House Democrats through the treacherous impeachment landscape -- and simultaneously overseeing the passage of more than 400 major pieces of legislation. At the end of the year House Democrats impeached Donald Trump, setting the stage for a historic 2020 trial. Thank you, Nancy Pelosi. -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: The Medical Model of Schizophrenia vs. Ignorance

Jack Bragen
Friday December 27, 2019 - 11:27:00 AM

The human brain is a bodily organ responsible for thought, action, emotion, and many other things. Without a brain, people would not be human beings, and we would lack consciousness as well as the ability to procreate and transmit our genetic information.

The human brain, like any other organ in the body, is subject to diseases. One disease is called "Schizophrenia." Schizophrenia is treatable but not curable with today's medical science. Schizophrenia is analogous to other diseases, such as too low or too high of a thyroid production. That is why medication works to help many individuals who suffer from a mental illness.

Religious people often have other opinions, ones that science can easily debunk. Mental illnesses are brain disorders. This means that some part of the brain is malfunctioning. -more-



Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Sunday December 29, 2019 - 01:52:00 PM

Worth Noting:

Another quiet week – City meetings resume January 6, 2020. Council on recess until January 21.


January 17, Oakland Climate Strike and Resilient Village, 10 am – 1 pm, Hosted by Youth Vs. Apocalypse


January 18, Women’s March 2020 Oakland, 10 am – 4 pm, https://www.eventbrite.com/e/womens-march-oakland-2020-tickets-81218483671

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Caring For Our Community Meal, 2-4 pm, at 1310 University, The Berkeley School, get to know your neighbors, Food will be provided Unity through CommUNITY, cdavilla@cityofberkeley.info, lsylvain@cityofberkeley.info, RCayangyang@cityofberkeley.info

Monday, December 30, 2019

Tax the Rich Rally, with music by Occupella, 4 – 5 pm at the Top of Solano in front of the Closed Oaks Theater, Rain Cancels -more-

Back Stories


The Editor's Back Fence

Time Off Time 12-29-2019

Public Comment

Women Take on Corporate Predators Ethel Long-Scott 12-30-2019

Stuart Baker and the Telegraph Business Improvement District Are Trying to Un-Park a Park Carol Denney 12-29-2019


Updated: The 2211 Harold Way Project is Off Planet 12-31-2019


THE PUBLIC EYE: 2019: Ten Reasons to be Thankful Bob Burnett 12-27-2019

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: The Medical Model of Schizophrenia vs. Ignorance Jack Bragen 12-27-2019

Arts & Events

THE BERKELEY ACTIVIST'S CALENDAR:Dec. 29 - Jan. 5 Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition 12-29-2019