Flash: Berkeley Mayor Arreguin Files Intent to Run for State Senate in 2024

Kelly Hammargren and Planet
Saturday February 11, 2023 - 02:31:00 PM

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin seems to be running for California State Senate, District Seven, in the 2024 Democratic Primary. He has filed a Statement of Intention with the California Secretary of State's office, a step which must be taken before raising any campaign funds. Potential candidates at this stage may file for more than one office, so Arreguin could have alternative plans as yet to be revealed. The district is overwhelmingly Democratic, so the winner of this primary is just about guaranteed to win in the November General election. The Senate seat is now occupied by former Berkeley councilmember and state representative Nancy Skinner, who will be termed out in 2024. -more-

A BERKELEY ACTIVIST'S DIARY: week ending Feb. 5, 2023

Kelly Hammargren
Tuesday February 07, 2023 - 01:35:00 PM

In another time, pre-pandemic, I would be standing in line at the Shattuck Cinemas to see “All That Breathes” , the Academy Award nominated documentary film of two brothers in New Delhi who rescue black kite birds.

The ten theatres with the murals so many of us love are closed and on the demolition block to make way for 2065 Kittredge. In place of the Shattuck Cinemas, once the economic engine of the downtown with over 300,000 patrons annually from the entire Bay Area and beyond, will stand student housing. It is a development many will applaud, with 187 units (including four live/work and nine very low income units) stacked into eight stories, with 4,993 square feet of commercial space at street level and 43 parking spaces underground. The nine very low income units qualify the project for a density bonus and added height and California Senate Bill 330 limits review to five meetings including the appeal on January 31 to City Council.

The appeal to City Council was not brought by unhappy neighbors protesting the planting of an oversize tower lording over their little houses. This appeal was brought by Adams, Broadwell, Joseph and Cardozo on behalf of East Bay Residents for Responsible Development. East Bay Residents for Responsible Development are our local skilled and trained workforce, union workers like plumbers, electricians, and sheet metal workers and local residents seeking to complete apprenticeship training. They were not trying to stop the project, they were asking for the hiring of local union trade workers, healthcare, apprenticeships and safe working conditions. -more-

Public Comment

Fact-Based Analysis of CEQA and People’s Park

Harvey Smith
Monday February 06, 2023 - 04:33:00 PM

A recent article and editorial in the Los Angeles Times, as well as statements from the University of California, conveniently neglect to mention that People’s Park is on the National Register of Historic Places. This listing takes the issue beyond being merely a Berkeley struggle, after deserved recognition by the State Historical Resources Commission and by the National Park Service.

With little focus on the core issues of the legal case challenging the proposed destruction of the park, recent press has instead focused on the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The key issue in the case is UC did not analyze alternative sites in their Environmental Impact Report (EIR). Having to choose either a park/open space or more student housing is a false choice. UC maintains the park is the only adequate site for Housing Project #2 when their own planning documents show they get many more student beds from another site a block and a half away. Choosing the most controversial site as their second housing project is also very poor planning on UC’s part.

Some politicians and media want to describe park defenders as being NIMBYs, which hardly explains the essence of the opposition to destroying the park. Defenders of the park want more student housing, but CEQA (a 1970 law signed by Governor Ronald Reagan) is the only legal tool available to defend People’s Park. The community is up against an institution that seemingly has an endless budget enabling the hiring of lawyers and PR flacks who earn six figure salaries. The People’s Park Historic District Advocacy Group (PPHDAG) board members get zero income to fight UC and must raise money from park supporters. Hundreds have donated to the legal challenge with anything from crumpled dollars to at most four figure sums sent from all over the country. Supporters are multicultural, young and old, some with means and others just surviving. This is grassroots, David vs. Goliath. -more-

Berkeley’s Last Burrowing Owl Urgently Needs Protection with a Functional Fence

Isabelle Gaston
Monday February 06, 2023 - 04:54:00 PM

Only a few weeks are left to see Berkeley’s beloved burrowing owl before it departs from its winter home at the water’s edge of Cesar Chavez Park. Whether this rare and beautiful creature will return next fall, is anyone’s guess. Much is riding on securing a functional fence for its refuge. -more-


Jack Bragen
Monday February 06, 2023 - 03:43:00 PM

It is common for working adults to decompress and desensitize by consuming alcohol on weekends or when they get off work. I drank beer for a short while when I was in my twenties. At best, it numbed me out so badly that I yearned for the hour when I would return to normal, as I know it to be. I take psych meds and mixing alcohol with them utterly shuts everything down, and worse.

Alcohol doesn't mix with antipsychotics. But if taken in combination with many other psych meds (It is hard to be sure of which ones), you can die from it. Many celebrities and countless others have died because of this. You don't mix alcohol with medication. Don't try it. And since you'd better not stop medication, you should stay entirely away from alcohol.

But the abovementioned is not the main thrust of this week's column...

People need to relax. Even people with mental illness must relax. I recall going swimming with a friend and getting a back massage. This type of experience is a thousand times better than drinking a beer or smoking a joint. Physical contact, play, rest, are things human beings must have. If we don't get that, we will die an early, miserable death. -more-

Tyre Nichols

Jagjit Singh
Monday February 06, 2023 - 03:34:00 PM

The police officers responsible for the death of Tyre Nichols death belonged to a rogue unit called the “scorpion” which was closed immediately following his death. The last few minutes of his life was similar to the death of George Floyd. So, who are the guilty? -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: The Israeli-Palestinian Two-State Solution Delusion

Ralph E. Stone
Monday February 06, 2023 - 03:22:00 PM

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken recently returned from a two-day visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank with the initial purpose of coordinating how the U.S. would work with the newly re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

During his visit, Blinken made the obligatory call for a two-states for two peoples solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an unpopular notion for Israels new right-wing government who oppose concessions to the Palestinians and rule out an independent Palestinian state in the land Israel has occupied since the1967 Mideast War.

Consider that in December 2022, incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu published his coalitions principles and agenda, promising construction of settlements throughout the country including in the West Bank. One of the guidelines include the following: "The Jewish people have an exclusive and inalienable right to all parts of the Land of Israel. The government will promote and develop the settlement of all parts of the Land of Israel — in the Galilee, the Negev, the Golan and Judea and Samaria.”

As of January 2023, according to Wikipedia, there are 144 Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including 12 in East Jerusalem. In addition, there are over 100 Israeli illegal outposts in the West Bank. In total, over 450,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank excluding East Jerusalem, with an additional 220,000 Jewish settlers residing in East Jerusalem. Israel is slowly squeezing the Palestinians from their lands. The international community considers Israeli settlements to be illegal under international law, although Israel disagrees. -more-

On the 44th Anniversary of Iran’s 1979 Revolution

James Roy MacBean
Tuesday February 07, 2023 - 12:52:00 PM

In the midst of ongoing protests against the regime in the Islamic Republic of Iran, several new developments have taken place in the last days as Iran takes notice of the 44th anniversary of the 1979 revolution than brought the mullahs’ regime to power. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, issued a “limited pardon” to perhaps tens of thousands of Iranian citizens who have been arrested for protesting the killing of 22 year-old Mahsa Amini at the hands of Iran’s notorious morality police. The so-called pardon is full of conditions too numerous and vague to enumerate here. All that can be said is that this token gesture by the Supreme Leader seems to demonstrate the regime’s awareness of how unpopular its rule has become, especially in the wake of its brutal crackdown on widespread popular and peaceful protests. -more-

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces: SmitherJabs&Jollys

Gar Smith
Monday February 06, 2023 - 02:55:00 PM

How to Play ‘War Lies Bingo’ on February 7

Back in 1928, a leftwing British peace activist named Arthur Ponsonby published a book called Falsehood in War-Time. Ponsonby's book included a 10-point list of falsehoods that had been used by Britain (and every other participant in World War I) to justify the slaughter.

No matter which side of the battlefield you looked at, Ponsonby found national leaders invoking the same ten lies. They were: -more-

February Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Tuesday February 07, 2023 - 02:30:00 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-


Berkeley's War on CEQA
Heats Up

Becky O'Malley
Monday January 16, 2023 - 09:32:00 PM

Almost all my life I’ve lived in walking distance of a major urban university. For most of the last 60 years or so I’ve been in Berkeley. As a Cal (that’s what we called it in the olden days) undergraduate I started out in a rooming house (aka “ a single family home”, i.e. a house with many more bedrooms than bathrooms or kitchens). It was a classic Berkeley brown shingle, vintage turn of the 20th century, on Channing near Telegraph, owned and inhabited by a classic hard-working immigrant, the proprietor of Anna’s Donut House next door, open as I recall from 6 a.m. until two a.m. Anna didn’t get much sleep.

My room was on the third floor. I shared it with a girl from a ranch in Walnut Creek (yes, it was still ranches in those days.) The one bathroom was on the second floor, so we took turns. The other tenants were girls from Taiwan, all science whizzes except one classical pianist. From them in the common kitchen I learned a bunch of nifty cooking tips, including how to cut up a chicken and fixing steamed eggs in a cup. Their first language was Mandarin, but they were eager to practice their English on me.

Anna played it close to the vest. Her first language was Eastern European of some Slavic variety. I didn’t understand it though I was studying Russian, and she had little interest in learning English, so we rarely talked. Her goal was making and saving the maximum amount of money to send home to the old country.

She was a penny-pincher. When we weren’t home she’d come into our room and unplug the radio and lamps because she thought they were burning electricity, even when turned off.

The house had no central heating, but our attic room had (horrifying in retrospect) a gas-fired wall heater with an open flame on which my roommate and I roasted hot dogs. But it didn’t burn down—it’s still there, now transmogrified into a Thai restaurant with a deck and a colorful paint job.

In those days, such houses were part of a neighborhood of similar establishments: older homes with several bedrooms built for families, some turned into woman-owner-occupied rooming houses by the 1950s, many run by faculty widows. In my senior year I moved to an apartment in the living room and dining room of a converted house—my next-door neighbor from that time is still my good friend.

I was in the class of ’61. We were just starting to exercise some political muscle, and UCB was fighting back. Back then, Cal was in Berkeley, though it was already starting to fancy that it was Berkeley.

Governor Pat Brown was our commencement speaker. We boycotted and picketed the event in our caps and gowns because he had allowed the execution of author Caryl Chessman.

Not so long afterwards I moved to Ann Arbor so my husband could go to graduate school, so we missed the 60s uproar here. The administration at the University of Michigan was much better than Cal at staying out of fights, even though there was plenty of political activity.

In 1973 we moved back so he could teach at Berkeley (the school) and looked for a house in Berkeley (the town) so our three daughters could go to the city’s excellent and diverse public schools. School bussing for racial integration had just started.

We benefited greatly from White flight. The old rooming house we had bought cheaply in Ann Arbor was seedy and small, on a busy street. We traded it almost even for an enormous house in Berkeley in excellent condition, also on a busy street. Undesirable elements (conservative White people terrified of school integration) were moving out to Lamorinda and points east, so real estate prices here were sliding downhill.

The busy street was a plus for us, because public transit was still excellent back then. The 65 bus stopped right at our front door; the TransBay E bus was at the corner, with frequent stops day and night. My husband could ride his bike to campus, I could take the E bus to The City for work, and the kids could take the 51 to Berkeley High—a perfect trifecta.

The big cheap houses on our busy street, including ours, provided homes for a great diversity of interesting people: communes of famous radicals, artists, musicians, journalists of various stripes, lots of students, novelists and even Eldridge Cleaver. Sadly, the neighborhood has re-gentrified in the last few years, adding dull novelties like investment bankers and even one rogue crooked convicted techie who ended up pardoned by the departing Donald Trump.

Why am I telling you all this? Because last week I watched the oral arguments about the appeal by a couple of neighborhood groups of a lower court decision which would have allowed UCB to evade California Environmental Qualiy Act (CEQA) requirements that noise impacts and alternative sites be studied before building an 1100 bed student dorm on a historic site at People’s Park.

That’s studied, not eliminated.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Tom Lippe, in his oral presentation pointed to language in California law that clearly included noise as one of the categories that an environment impact report needs to review. UCB had simply chosen to skip that step when it did the CEQA-mandated Environmental Impact Report. The university’s hired counsel suggested that human social noise, which students could be expected to make, shouldn’t count. The underlying premise of UC’s argument seemed to be that they could do as they please, Berkeley citizenry be damned.

As I review my lengthy history in and with Berkeley, that’s a claim that’s tough to challenge. But questions from the three appeals justices at the hearing I saw streamed indicated that the judges might not buy it this time. Though UC’s lawyer condemned the idea that students make a lot of noise as a baseless stereotype, both Lippe and the justices stressed the need for actual data on the topic, the kind of data that competent EIRs provide but UC’s didn’t this time,.

Some history: The university used eminent domain to take the land which is now People’s Park, which was then a big square block of houses southeast of my old rooming house on Channing Way, away from resident owners and their student tenants in the 1960s. There were rumors that UC bureaucrats disliked the tenants’ bohemian lifestyle.

The Big U tore those homes down, but failed to build anything to replace them. After some years students and citizens, without permission, took back the unused open space and turned it into a park. After a big fight, which park advocates hoped they’d won, the site was neglected for more than a half-century more despite occasional UC efforts to enhance it with amenities like a beach volleyball court and a primitive bathroom. -more-

Arts & Events


Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition
Saturday February 04, 2023 - 09:11:00 PM

Worth Noting:

Check the City website for late announcements and meetings posted on short notice at: https://berkeleyca.gov/

Directions with links to ZOOM support for activating Closed Captioning and Save Transcript are at the bottom of this calendar.

  • Monday: At 9:30 am CCCC is getting an update on Civic Center Vision progress prior to the meeting for the commissions’ super subcommittee. The City/UC/Student Committee aka 4 x 6 meets at 1 pm on Southside streets, lighting, blue phones. The Peace and Justice Commission and Personnel Board meet at 7 pm. The Peace and Justice Commission usually activates closed captioning and save live transcription.
  • Tuesday: No city meetings listed. President Biden’s State of the Union is at 6 pm.
  • Wednesday: The Police Accountability Board (PAB) meets at 6:30 pm. The PAB is recorded and has CC and save transcript. The Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Commission meets at 7 pm. Parks Commission is never recorded and staff have declined to turn on closed captioning when requested.
  • Thursday: The Budget & Finance Committee meets at 10 am. This meeting has audio recording, closed captioning and save live transcription. The Civic Center Visioning commissions’ super subcommittee meets at 11:30 am. Recording and closed captioning status is unknown. The community meeting on the Special Care Unit is at 6 pm. Recording and closed captioning status is unknown. The Zoning Adjustment Board (ZAB) meets at 7 pm with one project listed under action. ZAB is recorded and has closed captioning and save transcript.
  • Saturday: The Berkeley Neighborhoods Council (BNC) meets at 10 am. These meetings are recorded and posted on the BNC website.

City Council February 14 regular meeting agenda is available for review and comment. Use the link and then choose the Html option or see the agenda listed at the end of the calendar.


Survey: Bay Ferry 2050 Public Survey https://www.bayferry2050.org/survey


Sunday, February 5, 2023 – No city meetings listed -more-

Back Stories


Public Comment

Fact-Based Analysis of CEQA and People’s Park Harvey Smith 02-06-2023

Berkeley’s Last Burrowing Owl Urgently Needs Protection with a Functional Fence Isabelle Gaston 02-06-2023

ON MENTAL WELLNESS: Relaxing Jack Bragen 02-06-2023

Tyre Nichols Jagjit Singh 02-06-2023

ECLECTIC RANT: The Israeli-Palestinian Two-State Solution Delusion Ralph E. Stone 02-06-2023

On the 44th Anniversary of Iran’s 1979 Revolution James Roy MacBean 02-07-2023

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces: SmitherJabs&Jollys Gar Smith 02-06-2023

February Pepper Spray Times By Grace Underpressure 02-07-2023


Flash: Berkeley Mayor Arreguin Files Intent to Run for State Senate in 2024 Kelly Hammargren and Planet 02-11-2023

A BERKELEY ACTIVIST'S DIARY: week ending Feb. 5, 2023 Kelly Hammargren 02-07-2023

Arts & Events

THE BERKELEY ACTIVIST'S CALENDAR, February 5 - 12, 2023 Kelly Hammargren, Sustainable Berkeley Coalition 02-04-2023