Letters for December 22 

Readers sound off on solar energy development, the A's ballpark, and Jean Quan's tweets.

Page 2 of 4

The demand side solution is cities that move resolutely away from cars —­ including the electric cars that provide green cover for yet more sprawl and massive new energy demand, no mater where the electricity may come from.

Best of both worlds: less demand in the first place and solar energy from the desert but not to be massive in scale to support cars in badly designed cities.

Richard Register

author, Ecocities:­ Rebuilding Cities in Balance with Nature, Oakland

Solar Is Better Than the Alternative

The article, "Oakland Invades the Desert," has a lot of good information and makes many useful points. However, it misses the big picture. Global warming is threatening millions of species and the future of humanity. The article only acknowledges this problem begrudgingly, saying that solar companies "believe they're doing something good."

The fact is that they are doing something good. The earth can only absorb about 8 billion tons of CO2 per year, just over one ton per person on the planet. But right now the world produces about 32 billion tons of CO2 per year, over 4 tons per person. The US produces about 20 tons per person. This simply can't go on. All electricity needs to be generated by solar, wind, and other renewables, and all transportation needs to run on clean electricity or low carbon footprint biofuels. Use of fossil fuels simply must be stopped.

Large-scale solar is part of the solution. Yes, that will impact the desert. And yes, we should protect as much habitat as possible. But all of the energy for the US could be generated by an area less than 100 miles x 100 miles of photovoltaic cells. Of course, that's a lot, but it is less that 3/10 of 1 percent of the US area. So it is simply not true that "the entire California desert is under siege by solar power developers."

The problem with the article is that it does not understand the urgency of getting off of fossil fuels. Instead of portraying a 250-megawatt plant as "massive" or a 1,000 megawatt plant as a "leviathan," we should be working to find ways to build plants 10 or 100 times these sizes. The US consumes 360 billion kilowatt hours per month. To generate that much electricity, we need on the order of two thousand of the 1,000-megawatt plants.

While conservation, rooftop solar panels, more windmills, and other such efforts should also be part of the solution, and would reduce the need for many of these new solar plants, the dire situation on the planet makes large-scale solar a very beneficial effort.

Jack Lucero Fleck, Oakland

Do It Ourselves

As chair of the local Sierra Club chapter's Conservation Committee and a delegate to the state-level conservation committee, I have followed the desert solar issue with some interest but limited information. I thought you did a nice job of making the enviros not look like a bunch of time-benders or the developers look like yahoos.The other story is the horse coming up on the outside, local generation of solar power with retrofits of existing structures. Big business wants to have our solar from "far away places with strange sounding names" so we can continue to pay them for what we could do on our own roofs.

Arthur Boone, Oakland

"Oakland's Play for the A's," Full Disclosure, 12/8

Look at the Numbers

Both liberal and conservative economists have studied dozens of sports stadium deals over the last several decades. These academics are not paid by interested parties, and their studies nearly all conclude that new stadiums do nothing for the host cities or actually worsen their local economies.A few weeks ago the cost to the city of an environmental impact report was said to be $350,000. Already the expected cost has more than doubled to $750,000. Before an EIR is commissioned, City Hall should make a credible case to Oakland residents on economic grounds. It is not enough that a mayor-elect, already known for being arithmetically challenged when she speaks on public issues, merely hopes a stadium will help pull Oakland out of the national recession.

Charles Pine, Oakland

Local Businesses Should Get Dibs

What I hope is that the existing businesses (especially Peerless) get offered first dibs on the retail space in the new park. I think a brewery in a ballpark would be really cool (even if it's coffee!)!! Knowing Lew Wolff, he'd probably want a Starbuxks or Dunkin Donuts in there instead.

Jim Richards, Oakland

Small Businesses for Valdez Triangle

The Valdez Triangle development plan is a story unto itself, independent of the new ballpark boondoggle. I admit that I have a soft spot for the area bordered by 20th, Broadway, Harrison/the lake, and 27th streets. It is a very walkable, bikeable quiet area with some art spaces, including the thriving "Creative Growth" center. The buildings are lower and don't tower like the high-rises nearby. The sun shines onto the street and the apartment rents are cheap. This plan is being popularly represented as a plan for Broadway Auto Row, where many people would like to see change. But there is no real plan for that corridor, beyond condo developments. Currently the plan on the table is to build a large retail complex in the above-mentioned Broadway Valdez Triangle, and hopefully lure some "anchor tenants." Names currently being talked about are Macy's and Nordstrom's, which is pretty laughable, considering the mixed success of the recent Westfield mall in SF, etc. Is retail space a sustainable plan in the Internet shopping age? Maybe. But don't we have tons of vacant retail space in Oakland? Yes we do. Is more soon-to-be vacant retail space what we want to spend our redevelopment funds on? I think not. Why doesn't Jean Quan set up a contest between local business plans for funds to rejuvenate derelict space already built and available? There are lots of this kind of environmentally responsible, small-business-friendly redevelopment plans that would be a refreshing change of pace.

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