Deeply Flawed Process

The following letter is by Eileen Cohen, a long time Berkeley resident and park visitor. She makes the central point that the process by which the City has gone about shaping the Berkeley Marina Area Specific Plan (BMASP) is deeply flawed. To amplify her point, I can add that nobody reached out to the Cesar Chavez Conservancy about the BMASP plan, nor to the Cesar Chavez/Dolores Huerta Homage Solar Calendar organization. The BMASP planners also did not contact the Chavez Park Off Leash Dog Area group. Nor did they seek the views of the Golden Gate Audubon Society, the Sierra Club, the California Native Plant Society, or the Citizens for East Shore State Parks. In other words, the BMASP planners went out of their way to avoid seeking the views of major organizations having a long and well-recorded history of engagement with Cesar Chavez Park. Deliberately shutting out major stakeholders is a strange version of “democratic process.”

Here is Eileen Cohen’s letter:

June 10, 2022 

Dear Parks, Recreation, and Waterfront commissioners and staff:  

As a Berkeley resident, I am deeply concerned that the Berkeley Marina Area Specific Project (BMASP) process has been seriously flawed. In my opinion, it needs to be restarted virtually from scratch — this time with better communication to the public about the meetings; comprehensive minutes; and recordings of the public meetings.  

Currently, once a PRW [Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Commission] meeting is over, there is effectively no public record of concerns expressed about or opposition to BMASP proposals. PRW meetings should be recorded and made available to the public immediately and in perpetuity. (The minutes are simply too high-level for that purpose.) The lack of recordings and/or complete transcriptions of the proceedings undermines confidence in the public process.  

To compound the issue, two erroneous assertions were given at the June 8, 2022 PRW meeting as reasons for not recording the Zoom meetings.  

First, it was stated that although the PRW is not recording its meetings, any participant can record a Zoom meeting. However, that is true *only* if the host has enabled “local recording.” (For instructions, see the Zoom support article at https://tinyurl.com/yx4d6725.) The PRW did not enable local recording at any of your meetings, so participants have never had the option to record. Regardless, though, the burden shouldn’t be on the public to capture a public meeting.  

Second, it was asserted that recording the PRW meetings would saddle the PRW or the City of Berkeley with huge files on the secretary’s computer or the city’s servers. That is untrue. Paid Zoom accounts, which Berkeley’s certainly is, allow recording directly to the cloud. After the meeting ends, the host automatically gets a link to the recording. That simple link can then be posted online, along with the agenda, slide presentations, and other documents.  

Another reason given at the June 8 meeting for not recording the PRW meetings is that the meetings will soon be back in-person anyway. That explanation misses the point. I urge you to hold hybrid meetings even after in-person PRW meetings can resume. Not only would recording via Zoom obviate the need to produce traditional video recordings, but — and far more to the point — the ability to attend online would enable and encourage more public participation.  

Finally, it appears that perhaps not all written comments sent to the PRW and BMASP were shared with all commissioners or subsequently appeared online in the public record. An audit of that process may well be in order.  

I’m sending this message to the PRW secretary and to the BMASP email address. I ask that all PRW commissioners receive a copy. Please also add this message to the BMASP and PRW documents available online to the public.  

I’m copying the city councilmember for my district, Terry Taplin, and also Santiago Casal, Shirley Dean, Martin Nicolaus, and Norman La Force, all of whom have expressed concerns about the BMASP process (communication and transparency) and/or proposals to reduce open space at Cesar Chavez Park. I share those concerns.  

Regards,  

Eileen Cohen District 2 

Similar Posts:

4 thoughts on “Deeply Flawed Process

  • July 17, 2022 at 12:33 am
    Permalink

    i love the cesar chavez park as is
    do not .commercialize it please

  • June 12, 2022 at 2:54 pm
    Permalink

    It’s insane in this day and age, with Climate Change at the forefront of so many news stories, podcasts, and documentaries, that this type of obvious capitalization of a once established 1957 landfill for the purpose of containing municipal waste and in 1969 adopted by the City as an area set aside for unstructured recreation as part of the City of Berkeley Marina Master Plan, transformed by the public recreational participants (unstructured recreational users, i.e., all the current existing forms of public recreation that transpire freely) should this land grab to transform what has become a diamond in the rough, a gem of a park for all its current users, be occurring.

    We, the users of this park from all over the Bay Area and beyond, do not need this gem transformed into a commodity. We need it to be left alone and properly cared for and nurtured further into what it has become by all those who have participated in making it what it is now.

    Please, those behind the BMASP, go find something else to destroy and leave our gem alone. Stop this nonsense already. Stop wasting time, money and resources on something that nobody who currently uses this unstructured recreational area wants. Please!

  • June 10, 2022 at 10:04 pm
    Permalink

    What a sneaky process. Thank you for alerting us. I too totally agree with Eileen. I do not want Berkeley Marina touched in any way. Just last week I walked through the native plant area and decided to document it my own way, for the future generations, how that small forest came to be!
    Thank you for all the watchful eyes.

  • June 10, 2022 at 5:40 pm
    Permalink

    I agree completely with Eileen. And, regarding the following part of her letter”

    “Finally, it appears that perhaps not all written comments sent to the PRW and BMASP were shared with all commissioners or subsequently appeared online in the public record. An audit of that process may well be in order,”

    . . . , all related letters posted here at chavezpark.org that protest the City of Berkeley’s outrageous plans to obliterate the park and replace it with a ridiculous anti-nature adventure and entertainment scenario should be added into the public record. And their presence there should be one of the demands that the auditing process makes in its final write-up. I would add that the audit results should be made public by publishing them in Berkeleyside and other local newspapers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Translate »