Exchange of messages between park visitor Ryan Turner and Berkeley City Council member and Vice Mayor Kate Harrison, June 12-21 2022.
Hello PRW Commission and Berkeley City Council,
My name is Ryan Turner and I was born in Oakland. I am a sailor (trained at OCSC in the Berkeley Marina), a kite flyer, a dog owner, an RC airplane pilot, and the father of an eight year old. You can imagine that with that cross section of interests, my family spends a lot of time at Cesar Chavez Park.
Between “dot com” bubbles, recessions, and an ever increasing housing crisis, long-time East Bay residents have borne witness to profound changes. As local and national economics converge to squeeze the continually growing population at nearly every level, public land is only becoming more precious: we sell ourselves and our futures short when we try to monetize those lands.
In 2022, with the COVID pandemic not yet even a memory but an ongoing reality, it feels especially short-sighted to restrict access to any open spaces at Cesar Chavez Park and the idea of large concert-type events seems unsupportable given the already tight weekend parking situation. As someone who uses every part of the park as it is now, I would urge the PRW Commission and Council to abandon plans that would decrease the open spaces available to local residents.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
KATE HARRISON’S RESPONSE
On Tue, Jun 21, 2022 at 14:34 Harrison, Kate <KHarrison@cityofberkeley.info> wrote:
Dear Mr. Turner,
I really appreciate you writing to us about this. I was alarmed about the BMASP plan when it was presented. Just yesterday, my husband and I took a walk at Brickyard Cove, reclaimed from industrial uses to a beautiful natural space. It would be a travesty to destroy natural spaces under the City’s domain when regional agencies have worked so hard to open up natural spaces for our enjoyment. I do not want us to repeat the mistakes of the past in treating nature as secondary to commerce.
There are many steps before the City moves forward with development and I promise that I will continue to speak out about maintaining this vital, natural place. I commit to fighting to keep the small boatyard as it is a vital element of the marina specifically for working people. I am dedicated to maintaining the public natural space Berkeley has left as it is integral to the wellbeing of our communities. I recognize that hosting events and concerts in Cesar Chavez park will create more trash and pollution for the plants and animals that rely on the fragile, vital, natural habitats. Not only is this an environmental issue, it is a blatant equity issue. Public, natural space is necessary in urban areas as it allows any and everybody access to nature, not only those who can privately afford it.
The Berkeley Marina is a refuge and a space of rejuvenation and rest for so many people, plants, and animals. I am committed to keeping it that way.
All the best,
Dear Ms. Harrison,
Thank you for your thoughtful reply on this important issue. I appreciate the commitment to equity and to natural habitat voiced in your reply. I’m glad to know the parks have people in power willing to speak to those key issues and look forward to following the meetings closely in the coming months and years.
Kate Harrison is the City Council member representing District 4. She is a candidate for re-election this November 2022