City of Berkeley Offers Coronavirus Test to Symptomatic

Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Wednesday May 06, 2020 - 11:11:00 PM

City of Berkeley Health Officer Dr. Lisa Hernandez said Wednesday that anyone who has new coronavirus symptoms can now get tested for free at a city testing site. -more-

Covid-19 Status on Wednesday

Eli Walsh (BCN)
Wednesday May 06, 2020 - 04:07:00 PM

The latest developments around the region related to the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, as of Wednesday afternoon include: -more-

Public Comment

Updated: People’s Park: Chancellor’s Mistakes Redux

Christopher Adams
Sunday May 03, 2020 - 03:48:00 PM

Here we are locked down in our houses, unable live normally and certainly unable to conduct public business as usual, and the Chancellor at UC Berkeley insists on forward march with her plans to build on People’s Park, without even the usual public hearings that would give Berkeley citizens a chance to comment and discuss these plans. And so the story of the University ignoring its host community continues.

In 1873 the University of California moved from its one-block site in downtown Oakland to a farm at the mouth of Strawberry Canyon, in what is now Berkeley. Legend has it that the University then sold a portion of the land south of the creek for building lots in order to buy Strawberry Canyon and its springs to provide water for the new campus. Whether that legend is true or not, by the 1950s the campus was eyeing much of the area south the campus for expansion. Its first move was to buy the commercial blocks on Telegraph Avenue just south of Sather Gate (actually the “gate” is a bridge over the creek).

That move precipitated the University’s first big fight over land use in l964. The students had used the public sidewalks leading up to Sather Gate to set up tables for every sort of political and social cause. Once the land became part of the campus, the chancellor, Edward Strong, decreed that the tables would have to go. The students rebelled, and the Free Speech Movement was born.

I came to Berkeley four years later as a graduate student in the College of Environmental Design. A few years after that I joined the UC Office of the President, where I worked for 30 years. I read studies about the University’s plans to clear the land south of the campus for housing, and I listened to the University’s real estate officer give me his backstory on the acquisition of the land where People’s Park sits. Even later I worked closely with and got to know Roger Heyns, who had been the chancellor during the creation of People’s Park and resulting protests.

The intellectual and political underpinnings for the south campus clearance and redevelopment were articulated in a University report called, as I recall, “Students at Berkeley.” It was a classic example of 1950’s slum clearance or “urban renewal,” justifying wholesale destruction of old housing and its replacement with high-rise towers. Photos of the existing south campus brown shingles, taken with the maximum effort to show deterioration and decay, were juxtaposed with sketches of new dorms in the brutalist style of the French architect Le Corbusier.

Armed with this kind of intellectual underpinning the University moved to acquire entire blocks of south campus land. Then came a revolt by students to living in typical dorms—tiny rooms, one bathroom per floor, etc. (This revolt was not limited to UC; on a visit to the University of Maryland, I once toured a dorm complex that was being completely reconfigured into clusters of co-ed student apartments.) UC’s dorm building slowed down, but the properties were already acquired. UC was not good at maintaining rental properties in old brown shingles. As my real estate officer colleague told me, they were expensive to repair, and the tenants were smoking marijuana. “We had no choice but to tear them down.” The land remained vacant.

In 1969 the memories and passions of the Free Speech Movement were still strong and simmering. Activists began planting trees at what became People’s Park. Roger Heyns, forgetting or ignoring the experience of his predecessor Edward Strong five years earlier, ordered a 10-foot fence to be built around it. The fence was an irresistible attraction for Dan Siegel, the student body president, who perhaps dreamed of becoming another Mario Savio, and who urged students to tear it down. Alameda County deputies were called in, and one of them killed a protestor. Governor Reagan sent in National Guard troops and put the city under curfew. Protests and the police reaction embroiled the campus and the town. While studying in my apartment north of Hearst I was left choking in teargas fumes which were released by helicopters flying overhead.

I detail all this to emphasize that these memories are still with us. I am now on the Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commission. Even though it was not an agenda item, People’s Park protestors appeared at a meeting of the Commission last year. All of them were loud and vigorous, and all had very gray hair. I also want to emphasize that Chancellor Heyns over-reacted. This was not the only time. When the Wheeler Hall auditorium burned in the same year, which I remember well because I had a class in Wheeler, he immediately posted a letter blaming the fire on arson. Later it was determined to have been caused by an electrical malfunction. In my much later encounter with Heyns, which involved investigation of the malfeasance of the Santa Barbara chancellor, he acted with wisdom and patience that were sadly lacking in 1969.

We live in a very different world now. The errors of urban renewal have been recognized. The California Environmental Quality Act requires public comment and technical review before projects can be approved. Sometimes, as I can personally attest from my experience planning the new campus at UC Merced, these processes can be frustrating and block things that should not be blocked. But we have these processes because of errors made in the past. Without reminding ourselves of these errors and learning from them we risk making new mistakes. That is precisely what the current chancellor is doing in forging ahead in this time of the coronavirus pandemic to get University projects approved. -more-

Stable Genius Unravelling?

Jagjit Singh
Saturday May 02, 2020 - 03:32:00 PM

The White House coronavirus medical team were aghast at Trump’s medical musing on disinfectants. He has become a global laughing stock and the widespread ridicule has clearly bruised his fragile ego. He withdrew sulking but was back a few days later, snarling at reporters and deflecting embarrassing questions of disinfectants claiming that he was being “sarcastic.” Scarce medical resources were squandered warning Americans of the dangers of ingesting disinfectants. -more-

North America Needs Immigrant Workers, And We Should Appreciate Them

Jack Bragen
Saturday May 02, 2020 - 03:27:00 PM

President Trump touts keeping undocumented immigrants out of the U.S., with a wall, claiming "They certainly aren't sending us their best." I differ from that opinion. The actual motive of the President is not to keep out immigrant workers. These are men and women on whom our economy depends, something the President very well knows. The President wants to keep this designated category of human beings down at the bottom, with no opportunity for bettering their conditions, so that these hardworking, brave individuals will be barely more than a slave population.

Latino workers and immigrants from other countries less affluent than the U.S. often come from incredibly harsh living conditions, in which survival is not considered an inalienable right, it is something you get only if you are strong enough, if you work hard enough, and if you don't complain.

Anyone who can make it on the arduous, dangerous, hazardous trip from there to here, without dying from the rigors of the journey and without being apprehended, is a brave and strong individual at the least. And these are people with families to feed, which is probably their biggest motive for attempting such a daunting undertaking. And since they are coming here with the expectation that they will work, we are not getting lazy individuals. If criminal invaders were coming here to do harm to naturalized citizens, previous administrations (whether Republican or Democrat) and the Congress would have put a stop to this activity decades ago.

This is not to say that that among undocumented immigrants there are not a few bad apples--but you'd get the same thing among any designated group of human beings. I expect that statistically, the number of criminals among undocumented immigrants is about the same as among Caucasians. -more-

Ending Violence Against Women

Harry Brill
Saturday May 02, 2020 - 03:35:00 PM

Although the problem of gender inequality is on the minds of many Americans, among the worst manifestation, gender violence, does not receive the widespread attention that it deserves. The extent that women are severely assaulted is worrisome. Incredibly, one in four women are victims of physical violence committed by an intimate partner. Particularly terrifying, every year over 600 American women are shot to death by an intimate partner. In fact, 4.5 million women have reported being threatened by a gun. -more-

May Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Saturday May 02, 2020 - 04:04:00 PM

Editor's Note: The latest issue of the Pepper Spray Times is now available.

You can view it absolutely free of charge by clicking here . You can print it out to give to your friends.

Grace Underpressure has been producing it for many years now, even before the Berkeley Daily Planet started distributing it, most of the time without being paid, and now we'd like you to show your appreciation by using the button below to send her money.

This is a Very Good Deal. Go for it! -more-


The Nursing Home Horror Story Never Vanishes

Becky O'Malley
Saturday May 02, 2020 - 02:15:00 PM

In one of my previous lives I attempted to teach investigative reporting to a class of aspiring journalists who hoped to make a living free-lancing for magazines. This was in the early ‘80s, just about the time most of the print publications which commissioned 5,00 word stories were sinking slowly into the sunset, so few of my students ever managed to support themselves by writing.

But I did have one good idea. I thought it would be possible to put out a journalism textbook of sure-fire evergreen story ideas that would never get stale . I had a whole list, most of which came and went, but one endured and sadly is still with us: shocking conditions at nursing homes.

Forty years later, it’s still possible, any time an editor needs a dramatic story, to find a hellhole of a nursing home within 5 blocks of your desktop computer. Now in the COVID-19 era nursing home exposes can be found in any news source any day of the week. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

UCB Disses Alumnae and Alumni Once More

Sunday May 03, 2020 - 03:31:00 PM

As an alumna of the University of California at Berkeley (’61) I got an email this week from Chancellor Carol Christ which said in part:
“The COVID-19 crisis is challenging for the campus in many ways, not least so to our students.

“Across the income spectrum, students are facing enormous economic pressure brought on by the pandemic to pay for housing, food, and access to basic necessities. Almost overnight, part-time jobs many students relied on to fund their education have ended, and lay-offs and pay reductions began weakening the capacity of families to provide support.

“How are we responding as a campus community?

Please join me on Tuesday, May 5 for a live, online chat on how Berkeley is addressing the changing landscape of student need. Mark your calendars for 12:30 to 1 p.m. (Pacific) for this important conversation.

“You will learn about how you can take part in the response, including supporting the Student Emergency Fund. I’ll be joined by a panel that includes campus leaders, a philanthropic partner and trustee, and a student-parent supported by the fund.

You will also be able to submit questions for the chat in advance.

One significant question I have for Chancellor Christ is why she’s trying to rush her plans to build a sixteen-story building on People’s Park and to increase, massively, the number of admitted students through the environmental review process when affected parties, particularly local residents, are not able to attend the meeting in person. The City of Berkeley has already protested the schedule, which is blamed on COVID-19 but looks pretty sneaky to many of us alumnae.

Online chats are not an adequate substitute for open public forums. They probably don’t qualify under CEQA, engendering inevitable law suits and demonstrations.

This is no way to ensure public support for the school and its students.

Click here if you'd like to tell the Chancellor what you think of this process. -more-


THE PUBLIC EYE: California’s Unemployment Problem

Bob Burnett
Saturday May 02, 2020 - 03:00:00 PM

We're in the second month of what looks to be a prolonged recession. In this article I'll examine how this savage economic downturn has impacted California and what will likely happen. While the situation in California will be somewhat different from that in your state, it is informative to consider the largest state and it should be relatively straightforward to extrapolate to your situation.

The United States has a population of 331 million and a labor force of 165 million. The April 30th report indicated that there are 33 million unemployed (20 percent). (On March 23, St. Louis Federal Reserve president James Bullard warned the U.S. unemployment rate could hit 30 percent in the second quarter.)

California has 40 million residents and a labor force of approximately 18 million. Between March 15 and April 18, 3.4 million Californians applied for unemployment insurance (19 percent). According to the Public Policy Institute of California (https://www.ppic.org/blog/early-insights-on-californias-economic-downturn/?), "The lion’s share of job loss (more than 80%) occurred in three service sectors: arts, entertainment, and recreation; accommodation and food; and 'other services' (a category that includes automotive repair, personal care, and dry cleaning)." These sectors fell significantly faster than they did during the first month of the great recession -- December 2007 through January 2008. (In contrast, during the great recession, the sector experiencing the most impact was construction.) -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Dehumanizing People with Mental Illness

Jack Bragen
Saturday May 02, 2020 - 03:23:00 PM

Note: in this piece, I am using the term, "designated group." That is because any grouping or lumping together of human beings is artificial. You could put people in a category of those with large nose size or of having type II diabetes. Yet, these are criteria that allow people to be put in a group, and it is based on the thinking of one or more persons. I hope that helps the following make more sense.

Historically and today, preliminary to pseudo-scientific abuse is to paint a designated group as subhuman. If we are speaking of people with disabilities, this perception may include depicting people as cute--e.g., "It was only a hamster."

Painting someone as sick or subhuman are tools used by an abuser to gain collaboration with peers in organized and systematic abuse of an intended victim, and in some instances it is sanctioned by governments, or at the very least, by organizations.

When people are put into categories, e.g., psychiatric "clients," they are considered objects of study and not human beings. This is a way of hiding behind the cloak of supposed science to subjugate and harm a designated group. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Stumbling Through the Pandemic
Without A National Leader

Ralph E. Stone
Sunday May 03, 2020 - 03:53:00 PM

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Saturday May 02, 2020 - 03:36:00 PM

The Pandemic's East Bay Hot Spots -more-


The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, May 3-10

Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday May 02, 2020 - 03:17:00 PM

Worth Noting:

There is no City Council meeting in the coming week, however, the City Council Budget & Finance Committee will be meeting Monday and plan to meet weekly to assess the projected changes in City revenue due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Currently the projected drop in City revenue due to the pandemic is $25,500,000 (12.6%).

The May 12 City Council meeting agenda is available for review and comment and item 24 in the agenda includes budget updates.

At the April 27 Budget & Finance Committee there was discussion of needing to re-evaluate expenditures, but so far this does not seem to have much impact on Council decision making except to postpone amending the contract with Youth Spirit Artworks to provide case management to move homeless youth into transition Tiny Home housing and to postpone until June the final decision on the ballot initiative to make Mayor and City Council positions fulltime.

The Saturday noon Town Halls with the Mayor continue. Since questions need to be submitted in advance by 9 am on Saturday using this form and there is no live interchange with the public watch anytime on the Mayor’s YouTube site or watch as it is live streamed on jessearreguin.com.

Video Updates from the Mayor on COVID-19 are on Mondays and Wednesdays and are posted on the Mayor’s YouTube page, the same site as the posted Town Halls. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgXaP2idglejM_r7Iv7my6w

All City meetings and events are either by videoconference or teleconference.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

No City meetings or events found

Monday, May 4, 2020

City Council Budget & Finance Committee, 10 am,

Videoconference https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83737566663 or

Teleconference 669-900-9128 meeting ID 837 3756 6663, Agenda: 2. FY2021 Budget Update, 3. Strategic Plan Quarterly Report, 4. Proposed Budget & Finance Committee Priorities, 5. Measure P Revenues and Allocations, 6. Open West Campus Pool and MLK Jr Pool to implement City of Berkeley Shower Program – financial implications $270,100, 7. Housing Trust Fund Resources, 8. Homeless Services Report, Review of Council’s Fiscal Policies, (Packet 144 pages)


Tuesday, May 5, 2020

No City meetings or events found

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Public Financing Program/BERA Seminar, 6 – 7:30 pm,

Videoconference https://zoom.us/j/91717917378 Meeting ID: 917 1791 7378 Password 943191,

Agenda: Informational seminar on Berkeley Election Reform Act (BERA) and public financing. Seminar to cover public financing, contributions and expenditures, requests for matching funds, disbursement of funds and what to do after the election. Candidates and committee officers are encouraged to attend.


Thursday, May 7, 2020

COVID-19 & Black Communities: Crisis, Opportunity and Prescriptions for Change, 3 – 4:30 pm PDT, Sponsored by Center for Urban and Racial Equity, Panel discussion, Register: https://bit.ly/COVIDBLK for more information


Friday, May 8, 2020

No City meetings or events found

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Expect a Town Hall announcement from the Mayor, no announcements yet,

Sunday, May 10, 2020

No City meetings or events found


May 12 City Council meeting agenda available for comment, email council@cityofberkeley.info

Videoconference https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85809429003 or

Teleconference 669-900-9128 meeting ID 858 0942 9003,

CONSENT: 1. Citizens Redistricting Commission – 2nd reading of ordinance, 2. A=FY 2020 Annual Appropriations $47,602,843 (gross) $42,647,016 (net), 3. Formal Bid and RFP various funds $729,806, 4. Revenue Grant Agreements – to submit grant agreements (1. CHDP $352,000 FY 2021, 2. MCAH $336,000 FY 2021, 3. Tobacco Trust $300,000 FY 2021, 4. Immunizations $42,204 FY 2021, 5. Public Health Emergency Preparedness COVID-19 $401,462, March 4, 2020 – March 15, 2021, 7. Infectious Disease Prevention $210,468 Feb 1, 2020 – June 30, 2023), 5. Revenue Grant Agreements – grant application funding support from Essential Access Health to Conduct Public Health Services, 6. Dorothy Day House License Agreements – Veterans Memorial Building and Old City Hall, 7. Contract $187,401 with CycloMedia Technology, Inc. for Geographic Information System Infrastructure Asset Data Acquisition, 8. Contract $727,821 with Integration Partners for Avaya Upgrade, Support and Maintenance, July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2024, 9. Removed by City Manager - Amend Contract add $30,000 total $117,175 with Santalynda Marrero DBA SMconsulting for Professional Consulting (coaching) Services, 10.Amend and extend contract to June 30, 2023 add $31,500 total $81,167 with 3T Equipment Co, Inc, for Maintenance of Pipeline Observation System Management (POSM) Software, 11. Contract $900,122 (includes 15% contingency $117,407) with ERA Construction, Inc. for Strawberry Creek Park Play Area and Restroom Renovation Project, 12. Contract $1,969,056 (includes 10% contingency $179,005) with Suarez and Munoz Construction, Inc. for San Pablo Park Playground and Tennis Court Renovation Project, 13. Contract $200,000 term 5 years with BMI Imaging for Data Conversion Services for Berkeley Police Dept. Systems, 14. Contract $4,598,942 (includes 15% contingency) with Bay Cities Paving & Grading, Inc. for Measure T1 Street Improvements & Green Infrastructure, 15. Amend and extend contract to Dec 31, 2022 add $200,000 total $1,200,000 with AECOM USA, Inc for On-Call Traffic Engineering Services for Design and Construction for Ashby-San Pablo Intersection Improvements Project, 16. Amend contract add $338,000 total $862,900 with SCS Engineers and SCS Field Services for Cesar Chavez (Park) Landfill Post-Closure Maintenance and Monitoring, 17. Navigating Impact COVID-19 Pandemic on City Finances (from Auditor) , 18. Repeal SB 872 – call to State Legislature to overturn SB 872 prohibiting new taxes on Sugar Sweetened Beverages. 19. Support CA Farmworker COVID-19 Relief Legislation, 20. Berkeley Juneteenth, 21. Board of Library Trustees reappoint John Selawsky, 22. Budget Referral Telegraph Shared Streets refer $500,000 to FY2021-2022, ACTION: 23. Public Hearing Mental Health Clinic Charges, 24. a. FY 2021 Proposed Budget Update, b. FY 2020 Mid-year Budget Update, 25. Surveillance Technology and Acquisition Report and Surveillance Use Policy for Automatic License Plate Readers. (Follows proposed agenda review) Discussion and Direction Regarding Impact of COVID-19,


Use Appeals

1533 Beverly (single family dwelling) - July 14, 2020

0 Euclid – Berryman Reservoir - June 9, 2020

Remanded to ZAB or LPC With 90-Day Deadline

1155-73 Hearst (develop 2 parcels) – referred back to City Council – to be scheduled

Notice of Decision (NOD) With End of Appeal Period

1411 Allston 5/19/2020

1042 Ashby 5/19/2020

2715 Belrose 5/5/2020

1500 Fifth Street 5/14/2020

2417 Grant 5/12/2020

1205 Parker 5/5/2020

2252 Summer 5/21/2020

2870 Webster 5/21/2020


LPC NOD 2043 Lincoln – 5/12/2020

LPC NOD 2133 University – 5/12/2020

LINK to Current Zoning Applications https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Planning_and_Development/Land_Use_Division/Current_Zoning_Applications.aspx



June 23 – Budget

July 21 – Crime Report, Climate Action Plan/Resiliency Update,

Sept 29 – Digital Strategic Plan/FUND$ Replacement Website Update, Zero Waste Priorities

Oct 20 – Update Berkeley’s 2020 Vision, BMASP/Berkeley Pier-WETA Ferry

Unscheduled Workshops/Presentations

Cannabis Health Considerations

Vision 2050

Ohlone History and Culture (special meeting)

Presentation from StopWaste on SB1383

Systems Realignment


To Check For Regional Meetings with Berkeley Council Appointees go to


To check for Berkeley Unified School District Board Meetings go to



Back Stories



The Nursing Home Horror Story Never Vanishes 05-02-2020

The Editor's Back Fence

UCB Disses Alumnae and Alumni Once More 05-03-2020

Public Comment

Updated: People’s Park: Chancellor’s Mistakes Redux Christopher Adams 05-03-2020

Stable Genius Unravelling? Jagjit Singh 05-02-2020

North America Needs Immigrant Workers, And We Should Appreciate Them Jack Bragen 05-02-2020

Ending Violence Against Women Harry Brill 05-02-2020

May Pepper Spray Times By Grace Underpressure 05-02-2020


City of Berkeley Offers Coronavirus Test to Symptomatic Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN) 05-06-2020

Covid-19 Status on Wednesday Eli Walsh (BCN) 05-06-2020


THE PUBLIC EYE: California’s Unemployment Problem Bob Burnett 05-02-2020

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Dehumanizing People with Mental Illness Jack Bragen 05-02-2020

ECLECTIC RANT: Stumbling Through the Pandemic
Without A National Leader
Ralph E. Stone 05-03-2020

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces Gar Smith 05-02-2020

Arts & Events

The Berkeley Activist's Calendar, May 3-10 Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition 05-02-2020