Letters for November 26 

Readers sound off on our election coverage, the loss of our crime column, and mountain bikers.

"This Election Is About Big Oil," News, 10/29

Opinions Versus Journalism

Wow, is this supposed to be an opinion piece or does Gammon really call this journalism? So much for fair and impartial reporting. Given the tone of this piece it is clear that there are many people on the public side of the Chevron-Richmond conflict who have not learned much about how to search out real facts, assess them for credibility, use them for negotiation, weigh them against prevailing law, and then be big enough to settle for compromises that work for both sides. That's a shame, since both sides stand to win. Richmond stands to win jobs and revenue from Chevron. Chevron stands to win continued operations in a legal and peaceful atmosphere. I have watched this conflict escalate over the past years and have seen mostly unreasonableness from the more radical side of the Richmond supporters. I have seen mostly workable reasonableness from those in the city who understand the law and business negotiations. I have seen extreme hard work by Chevron to meet the law and the needs of the city. It is too bad opinion pieces like this, not real journalism, continue to inflame the debate, and perpetuate incorrect facts.

John MacDonald, San Ramon

"Life of the Party," Apprehension, 10/29

We'll Miss You

Thank you Anneli for a great column which often illustrates the social and cultural context of local crime issues. We will miss your reporting. Good luck!

Laura Menard, Berkeley

She Goes, I Go

Rufus's crime column is the best thing in the Express and about the only non-PC feature therein. If you can't make room in your schedule for her, I can't make room in mine for you.

Michael Hardesty, Oakland

"Kaplan, Bates, deHaan, and Roy, Plus No on 8," News, 10/29

Google Your Facts

I hope that the Express editorial staff will rethink its reflexive and often poorly informed coverage of Berkeley historic preservation issues in light of the decisive defeat of Measure LL at the polls on November 4.

Nearly 21,000 Berkeley voters — a nearly 5,000 vote majority — said no to a severely weakened landmarks ordinance and voted to keep the current ordinance intact. Far from being a small minority, as frequently mischaracterized by the Express, Berkeley preservationists had a decisive majority of voters on their side this time.

One also hopes that newspapers will base their editorial recommendations on facts, not incuriously repeat false claims of the side they favor.

For example, in its endorsements section, the Express stated "Berkeley now has more historical landmarks than San Francisco and San Jose combined." Five minutes of Internet searching confirms that San Jose has at least 152 designated landmarks, and San Francisco at least 264, for a combined total of 416 landmarks. Berkeley has just a few more than 300.

And while most Berkeley landmarks are single structures, many of the San Francisco and San Jose "landmarks" are actually much larger historic districts, some encompassing scores of separate historic buildings over several square blocks within single "landmark" designations. 

The same issue of the Express also claimed, "For years, preservationists used the landmarks law to curtail development in the city." In fact, very few development proposals in Berkeley involve historic properties or result in landmark controversies.  

Literally dozens of infill housing and other developments — some quite large — have been approved and built in Berkeley in the past couple of decades without any preservation dispute whatsoever. And the preservation community has actively supported some key new developments where high-quality infill buildings would improve the Berkeley streetscape.

In sum, historic preservation in Berkeley is reasonable, mainstream, not an obstacle to intelligent and thoughtful development, and is in keeping with the views and values of the majority of Berkeley's voters, as expressed on Measure LL.

Steven Finacom, Berkeley

"Fighting for Their Right to Bike," Feature, 10/29

A Victory for All

I want to express my views of the article recently written by Nate Seltenrich about the current Measure WW. As a mountain biker who has lived in the East Bay for the past two-plus years, I care deeply about equal access to our park lands.

Getting measure WW passed is important, and I for one will be voting yes next week. Working with the park district in gaining more access to the desirable single-track trails is in every user's interest. Opposing the measure will only alienate the goodwill the mountain bike community has established over the last twenty years with the district and other park users. Certainly the district can do better with trail access to all users, but we as a group need to work with them to achieve future success.

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