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Letters for the Week of April 15, 2015

Readers sound off on putting citizens in charge of police complaints, bad landlords, and racism in Berkeley.


"Putting Citizens in Charge of Police Complaints," News, 4/1

There's Backroom Lobbying Going On

Although representatives of the Oakland Police Officers Association declined to comment for this piece, they are busy trying to persuade city councilmembers that moving forward to implement the policy of putting citizens in charge of police complaints may cause delays in Negotiated Settlement Agreement (NSA) compliance. Of course, neither Judge Thelton Henderson (as he stated at the NSA status conference in March 2011) nor OPD Chief Sean Whent agrees with that prediction. So, who you gonna believe?

Rashida Grinage, executive director of PUEBLO, Oakland

It's About Credibility

Law Enforcement leadership must take an active role in supporting and developing a strong working relationship with unbiased, independent, qualified citizen oversight personnel in an effort to bring respect, transparency, and credibility to our law enforcement accountability system and to reestablish the public's confidence in our law enforcement organizations.

Luis Bolaños, Palm Springs

"When Landlords Harass Tenants," News, 4/1

It's Not Acceptable

I don't know about Oakland, but where I live it is not acceptable to force tenants to live in a construction zone that results in a loss of use of the property without compensation. They're not only requiring these tenants to live without the amenities and full use they're paying for, they're making them fund the improvements that offset capital gains and increase the owners' equity. And they're exposing them to environmental hazards. Never mind that these repairs were probably deferred to save a buck in the first place.

Lead and asbestos exposure is not a joke. My partner lived in a crappy duplex that the owner had barely improved in his long history of ownership. There was exposed friable asbestos pipe wrap in the basement and illegal plumbing tie-ins, and the chipping lead paint on the slowly collapsing porch poisoned the downstairs tenant's dog. The downstairs tenants had a hole clear through the siding and a shattered window throughout the winter.

Is anyone supposed to be sympathetic to owners when they make your life hell because years of deferred repairs become such major issues as to make the place uninhabitable? If you don't want to pay for the significant cost of these renovations as a landlord you should buy something else. I'm a homeowner and a landlord, by the way, and I understand the obligations. Further, I recognize that actual human beings have to live with what I do and don't do.

CJ Weiland, Columbus, Ohio

"Whose Home?" Culture Spy, 4/1

I Can Identify with W. Kamau Bell

I felt the same way when I moved back to Adams Point in Oakland after being in Atlanta from 2000 to 2010. Man, how the flavor has changed, but, oh well, I'm here to stay, and I'm Unapologetically Black.

John Blaze, Oakland

Now This Is a Conversation On Race

Bravo. Eat your heart out, Starbucks. This is how it's done.

Elisabeth Jondahl, Portland, Oregon

"A Parcel for the People?" News, 3/25

We Need a New Developer

I support a shorter tower that is more to-scale, with some of the land being converted to a public park. It should be developed by a different developer, however, one that has paid its debts. If Urban Core owes San Francisco $5.5 million, but then spends $5 million on land in Oakland, that is money they don't have.

Segue Fischlin III, Oakland

"It's Time to Overturn the State Ban on Rent Control," Seven Days, 3/25

Rent Prices Are Insane

Something has to be done — rental prices in the Bay Area are laughably high — insanely high — especially for what people are being paid. I make $60,000 (which should sound good, but isn't anymore) and could not afford to live alone in a safe place if I had to. In no way is that an indication of a healthy local economy.

Nikki Simonsen, Livermore

"The Vegan New Wave," Taste, 3/25

See You Soon

I'm planning a trip to the Bay Area just to visit all these awesome places. Thanks for the coverage!

Mary Marshall, West Lafayette, Indiana

Thank You!

Great to see so many of my favorite businesses mentioned here! Thanks for covering the growing East Bay vegan scene! We definitely have an amazing community.

Stephanie Frankle, Berkeley

"A Drop in the Bucket," Seven Days, 3/18

What About Fracking and Growth?

The California Governor's Office declared a state of emergency due to drought conditions. Yet the Governors Office, state departments and agencies are knowingly jeopardizing the health and safety of California citizens by poisoning our water supplies by allowing fracking to continue. They're also depleting our water supplies by expanding economic development. You can't declare a state of emergency for water conservation to only then pump toxic chemicals into wells and expand houses, businesses, strip malls, and schools with known limited water supplies. This is an outdated policy that is harming the public and needs to be fixed.

Andrew Weaver, Castaic

Beef Is Worse

Crops?! Yes, almonds are water-intensive, but worse than that is livestock. I agree that folks need to cut back on almonds but am shocked this article did not even touch on the livestock sector of agribusiness. Wake up! Check out

Lisa Robles, Oakland

Desalination Is the Answer

I urge you to attend a lecture on "Water Solutions in California" on Tuesday, April 28 in Walnut Creek. You are basically correct about the abuse of water by certain elements — farming — in the state. But I differ with your position that the agricultural economy of California is only a minor part (2 percent) of the overall picture. Agribusiness is still a major part of the state's economy and is expanding due to the demands for the myriad of products it produces. Yes, 80 percent of water goes to farming and yes, there are abuses there.