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Carl Martineau, Berkeley
Since Hate Man has such deep respect for the power of language, when he was admitted to the hospital for his "recent prostate problem," I am sure he greeted all his caregivers with, "Fuck you, I hate you" and received excellent care as a result.
Steve Senter, Piedmont
"Fruitvale the New Hipster Hangout?" News, 3/2
Don't Blame the White Kids
Okay people, get off your moral high horse. Never mind the cultural politics of it all. I for one am happy these white kids are coming to my neighborhood. They are supporting local businesses! They spend their rich parents' money here! They increase foot traffic in a retail district! What's not to like? And to those who are complaining about these white kids fleeing the area as soon as the sun goes down, I ask, can you blame them? I'm brown, have lived in the neighborhood thirteen years, and I get my brown ass indoors at night. They're not working on a gang injunction in the Fruitvale for nothing!
Seriously people, be happy that people from outside the immediate area want to support our businesses.
Jenny Sit, Oakland
It is extremely irresponsible and wrong to frame Fruitvale as a place to consume, appropriate, and leave before the sun goes down. How about asking the people who live in Fruitvale what they think about their home possibly becoming the next Mission or West Oakland? How about asking those Berkeley students why it is they think it is cool to go to a place, take, and leave?
Alex Martinez, Oakland
"Disabled Fight Jerry Brown's Budget," News, 2/16
A Growing Problem
With $12.5 billion cuts proposed for programs that largely serve the disabled and seniors, I'm reminded of a sleeping giant that will soon arise at the front doors of homes throughout the state of California: the rapidly aging population living in unhealthy, unsafe, single-family homes.
California's elderly population is expected to grow more than twice as fast as the total population from 1990 to 2020, with a total population growth of more than 112 percent. The oldest old-age group (85-plus years) will increase at an even faster rate, having an overall increase of 143 percent during the same period. Currently, approximately 18 percent of single-family homes have an occupant of 65 years or older, and in such counties as Plumas, Calaveras, Lake, Sierra, and Inyo, nearly one in four individuals are 60 years or older.
The overwhelming majority of California's single-family housing stock has architectural barriers that subject seniors and persons with disabilities to unsafe living conditions, social isolation, and forced institutionalization. The barriers also discourage friends and family members with mobility impairments from visiting. Such a seemingly simple physical act as independently entering and exiting a home can be extremely challenging for someone with a mobility impairment, and often leads to serious injuries and hospitalization. According to a 2005 report produced by AARP, 1.8 million older Americans received medical care for injuries sustained from falling in their homes. Such falls cost the nation $19 billion in direct medical costs each year, and by 2020 costs are projected to reach $43.8 billion.
By requiring new single-family home construction to incorporate the three architectural elements listed below, California provides an opportunity for the aging population and persons with disabilities to live healthier, safe, independent lifestyles, allowing them to maintain relationships with their neighbors and surrounding community while saving the state money on direct medical costs. The three architectural elements are a zero-step entrance/exit into the house; doors that provide 32 inches of clearance; and at least a half-bath on the main floor. These features embody the spirit of "visitability" and define accessibility in the broadest terms as a civil right.
As new housing construction patiently waits to return, California has an opportunity and responsibility to reassess the future of housing to ensure it will meet the needs of the rapidly aging population and empower its citizens to live long, healthy, safe, and independent lives. Without giving immediate attention to this growing matter, California will find itself scrambling for funds it doesn't have or had cut years before.
Joshua Rucker, Berkeley