Even More Letters
Saturday July 9 (tomorrow) 9 am Native Plant Watering and Cultivating. Meet at parking circle west end of Spinnaker Way.
Saturday July 9 (tomorrow) Noon to 3 pm. Public Information Booth, distribute literature about BMASP and engage in conversation with park visitors, southeast corner of the park, near intersection of Marina Blvd and Spinnaker Way.
Sunday July 10: 2 pm to 6 pm, Public Information Booth, distribute literature about BMASP and engage in conversation with park visitors, southeast corner of the park, near intersection of Marina Blvd and Spinnaker Way.
Wednesday July 13, 7 pm, Parks Recreation and Waterfront Commission meeting, on Zoom. The agenda and Zoom address have now been posted here.
Letter From T. Anne Richards
July 5, 2022
RE: Cesar Chavez Park
Dear Council Members, Mayor Arrequin and City Manager Williams-Ridley,
I am a resident in District 1 where Chavez Park is located. I have used Chavez Park for recreation, walking alone or with friends, and playing with my various canine companions since 1993. It is a stunning part of Berkeley offering well fought for open green space, a habitat and sanctuary for wildlife on a bird migration path, a place for flying kites, picnics, and enjoying fun time with canine companions. With well defined areas that are respected by most, there exists a balance for wildlife, plant life and a quietude for human activities.
How you can even think of paving parts of it over and creating “event space” in what is now a “green calm space” for wildlife and humans is mind boggling. It is hard to believe you have invented such an idea and actually think this would be a good thing. Do you really think these ideas you have will improve the quality of life for humans, canines, birds and other wildlife? I am strongly opposed to any such idea. Keep the park green! Hands off the park with these truly strange ideas of what is needed. In these mad times we need all the green and calm we can get.
Remember, elections are coming up and residents are already pretty upset about other projects our representatives are driving forward. The ideas you are considering for Chavez Park just adds fuel to an already existing fire of dissatisfaction with leadership. Drop these ideas and let the park continue to thrive and maintain its current balance.
T. Anne Richards
1529 Acton Street
Letter from Wini Williams
I am a Berkeley senior resident and 40+ year homeowner. The Marina has been my backyard in many ways. I was here when it was a city dump and have enjoyed it’s transition into a treasure for the community. It is where my grandchildren learned to bike ride, skate board, see wildlife, climb rocks and enjoy the outdoors and the bay. My youngest grandchild comes to visit from college and always wants to take a Marina walk. I continue to visit every day to walk my 5th dog to enjoy the off-leash area.
One of the things I most love about the area is being outside and away from the hustle and bustle of the city; despite the proximity of the freeway, or perhaps because it seems so far away. Seeing the city and the iconic bridges in the morning sunrise or evening sunset gives me a feeling of privilege, peace and contentment. What a glorious way to start and end a day.
I also enjoy seeing families picnicking, flying kites, socializing and the sense of community all of that gives the park and my day. Having the privilege of seeing wildlife is an amazing experience. Owls, kestrel, hawks, Herons, bluebirds, pelicans flying by, rabbits, skunks, butterflies, and all kinds of gophers are just a part of the days activities. And the wild flowers that have found their way onto the hard soil. So beautiful in the spring. How I would miss it all.
The project you are proposing would forever destroy all that makes this a unique and special place. There is barely enough parking for those of us already using the park every day; adding commercial enterprises would create an amazing log jam of people and cars.
This space is particularly important because it is egalitarian. Anyone, with or without resources can come and enjoy the space; the accessibility of the space is very important to us all. For those of us with dogs it is a place of health, mental and physical; particularly during these COVID years.
Please do not allow this to happen to our space; keep Berkeley’s open space for all to use.
Letter from Sally Nelson
To: Mayor Jesse Arreguin, All Members of Berkeley’s City Council, and Berkeley’s City Manager,
Having lived in Berkeley for 45 years, I am very distressed about the commercial developments being proposed for Berkeley’s Marina, including Cesar Chavez Park and the Native Plants Area. The proposed Berkeley Marina Area Specific Plan is highly problematic.
First of all, there is a legal covenant dating from 1976 and 1977 that declares that the land should be used “for unstructured recreation.” The City of Berkeley does not own the land that makes up the Marina. the State of California owns it. The City holds it in trust. The California State Lands Commission administers State lands held in trust. This land use covenant was confirmed by Berkeley City Council Resolution No. 47,935-NS in May 1976, confirmed verbatim in the Master Plan in 1977, and in all subsequent conceptual and specific planning documents.
My following comments address the significance of the Marina to visitors, to wildlife, birds, insects, and the importance of native plants.
Resident birds and other wildlife need native habitat in order to survive, to feed, and to raise their young. In North America, bird populations have seen a decline of 30% since 1970, a problem that is also global. Migrating birds need urban parks as stopovers in which to rest and feed during their migrations covering many thousands of miles. Why should we care? Our very survival depends upon a healthy and diverse ecosystem that includes birds, insects, and other wildlife.
About Native Plants Area: don’t even think of demolishing it. This proposal is an outrageously rude insult to the many volunteers who have spent thousands of hours over forty (40) years planting and nurturing the area. They have been transitioning the land from a dump to a life-giving habitat for wildlife, pollinators, and birds. What we need is a larger area for native plants.
We people need parks that are unstructured in which to restore our emotional and mental health. Nature is the city-dweller’s lifeline, now more than ever. In our current economy, with job loss and inflated prices for the basics of food, housing, and transportation, we all need free public places in nature where we can get a breather from all the stress of a commercialized world.
The Adventure Playground on the south side of the Marina should continue to provide kids ways to play and learn. Don’t pave it over.
I presume the initial financing of the proposed commercial venture would be by investors and the City of Berkeley, all of whom would expect a return on their investment.
People using the reconstructed area would be expected to pay, when the area has already been funded by taxpayer dollars and thousands of volunteer hours. Additionally, most people are really struggling with finances, and need a place to recreate without paying fees. Places that are transformed into concert venues and stadiums have a limited lifespan. Take note of the Oakland Coliseum and its years long woes with financing.
The beauty of a natural area like Berkeley’s Marina is that its lifespan is an ongoing continuum, responding to the interrelationships of the plants, birds, wildlife, insects, and people in a healthy ecosystem. Changing, yes, and full of life.
I urge you to respect Berkeley Marina and its significance to people and all of wildlife. Do not proceed any further in planning to commercialize this area. For those who are eager to provide financing, please direct those funds to the sorely needed infrastructure projects in Berkeley that are ready and waiting with open hands.
2200 McGee Avenue
PS: For those of you interested in learning more about bird migration, I highly recommend A World on the Wing, by Scott Weidensaul.
Letter from Diane Mintz
Dear Rashi, Beth, Mayor and Councilmembers:
I am a resident of District 1. More relevant to the issues I wish to address is that I go to Cesar Chavez every single afternoon. I go to feel the salt air, to hear and see the birds (brown pelicans who fly in formation and skim 6 inches above the water to hunt; hawks, the occasional kite, and many more), to encounter the occasional garter snake who slithers onto the path, to watch the inevitable scampering and squeaking of the ground squirrels, to get away from the noise of the freeway and the busyness of urban living.
All this while walking my dog. When I began going daily, ca two years ago, I used to listen to podcasts while walking. Slowly I realized the peace of my natural surroundings, and I gave up technology in favor of experiencing the beauty around me. Yes, it is a man-made oasis, but nature has used the land well and turned it into its own creation.
An important point to be understood by those who are not intimate with the Park is that it has a level perimeter paved path. This makes it accessible to the elderly, disabled, to young children and those in between. I see and meet new people daily, families speaking many different languages, as well as familiar faces who return day after day. It is never without those who are enjoying its spaces: kite flyers, model airplane aficionados, picnickers, runners, amblers, and dog walkers like myself.
There is an area devoted to establishing (and established) native plants. This area is cared for with devotion by a small group of volunteers (and City staff) who plant, trim, weed, and water the natives.
If the proposed plan to build a venue to accommodate rock concerts and amusement park facilities were to come to fruition, a marvel will be transformed into another pop culture destination bringing noise, tons of litter, and crowds who impose on the place without regard to its natural beauty. What will happen to the wildlife? What will become of the plants? Where will casual strollers and those seeking respite go?
And, if the goal is to fill a music venue, where will these people park? On a daily basis all of the designated parking areas are filled by those like me. The parking lots are also full to the brim on weekend days and holidays with picnickers and others.
Which brings me to another point in strong opposition to the proposed plan: the marine/sailing facilities would be eliminated. They have been there for decades and serve a large contingent of sailors, boat owners, teachers and students of sailing, et al. My own partner spends every Saturday at that marine center and through him I know of many others who would be displaced.
It would appear that the proposal for a revamp of Cesar Chavez is tone deaf to a huge percentage (87% as I have heard) of polled respondents who are opposed to any development of the Park which would curtail the amenities I have described. If you value public opinion (and how could you not: you are in Berkeley!!!), you need to be in close touch with the Chavez Park Conservancy, the Chavez Park dog owner’s group, the Solar Calendar organization and the model airplane group. Perhaps it would be appropriate to at least consult the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, and the Citizens for East Bay Parks as well. When major changes are proposed, then a full range of citizenry needs to be consulted. Dare I say that your jobs depend upon that.