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Letters for the Week of July 29, 2015

Readers sound off on water rights, housing, and the eucalyptus debate.


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9. The 1992 FEMA report, in its many recommendations, stated: "Do not target particular species such as Blue Gum Eucalyptus or Monterey Pine for eradication or exemption from tree regulation policies, but require regular maintenance to reduce fire hazard."

Our urban forests are precious resources that mitigate fire danger, not increase it, especially in our era of climate change and local drought. All trees, regardless of species, are needed now more than ever. In fact, drought-adapted eucalyptus may be one of the few species that can survive and help us by doing all the valuable services trees have always provided us humans.

Jack Gescheidt, San Geronimo

"Turning Water into Wine," Feature, 5/27

Good Investigative Reporting

Great article, Will Parrish! As the land use and planning battles continue to ensue within California counties, it is critical that you raise attention to the problem of industry scale and density of vineyards across sensitive habitat. With population projections looking to see built development scale out across the Central Valley and coasts, it will be another factor for residents to consider: densifying or sprawling built community environments or maintaining vineyards, farmscapes, and cattle ranching lands. The problems are complex when you look at costs of living and wages/income disparity with a deeper green understanding of our environment's carrying capacity. We are moving forward where resource grabs (i.e. land, water, etc.) are building exclusive zip codes and fostering greater inequalities all within how we operate in society. Furthermore, our state has a range of regulatory frameworks with some contradicting others. It will be interesting to see how water policy advances and enforcement ensues to preserve the "environment" all the while maintaining business growth. Keep up the good investigative writing!

Tim Galarneau, Santa Cruz

Miscellaneous Letters

Protests Do More Harm than Good

Thank you for publishing the letters "I Call Bullshit" and "You're Wrong About Schaaf" (see Letters, 6/10).

It is very troubling that people are regularly breaking the windows of shops and looting businesses, and sometimes beating up the merchants or the people that work there, all done under the banner of "It's a protest." It is wrong, it is unhelpful, it damages Oakland, and it makes it more difficult for businesses to survive and to continue to hire workers.

It was a shame that for many years Sears was regularly targeted for destruction. Every protest resulted in breaking the windows at Sears. Maybe that was a factor in Sears leaving Oakland. Sears was a good store. It employed people who lived in Oakland. I shopped there.

Likewise, it was a shame that the car dealers along Broadway were attacked earlier this year. I have a thirteen-year-old Infiniti sedan and I like to take it to the Infiniti dealer for repairs. They have the parts (they don't have to order them) and they know how to work on Infinitis. Oakland is now on our third Infiniti dealer in about seven years. The last two filed for bankruptcy. It is not an easy business; the profit margins are thin.

A lot of businesses are self-insured or have high premiums. So when most of their windows are smashed, they have to pay for it. Some of these businesses may never recover. Blight is not good for Oakland.

Again, I appreciate you publishing those two letters. A lot of people feel that way. I was born in Oakland and I care about Oakland. I would like to see Oakland do well and be able to support more jobs.

Kevin Francis Barrett, Oakland

Down with the Fence

McLaughlin Eastshore State Park at the Berkeley Marina is not a true park, and Silvia McLaughlin, for whom the park is named, said so herself in the meeting I attended with her: "We did not work so hard to save the land from development so that it would be fenced off to the public."

She disapproved of the fence, but her disapproval was ignored by the advisory committee that met on how the land was to be managed. The committee closed the area to the public in the name of "Habitation Restoration."

The land, which is a huge area almost the size of the UC Berkeley campus, was originally underwater, so there was no habitat to be restored. Like its neighbor, Chavez Park, it became a landfill and a dump until the early Seventies, when a wilderness grew and thrived there, and a multitude of nature lovers enjoyed its wildlife for three decades before the land was clear-cut about ten years ago.

Students from UC would visit there to study its ecosystem, which included a great variety of wildflowers and plants and everyone enjoyed its abundance of rabbits and voles and non-poisonous snakes and lizards that the owls and hawks would feed upon, and of course there were flocks and flocks of red-winged blackbirds and finches, and yes, migratory birds as well, who would visit during the rainy season.

The land belonged to Santa Fe Railroad at first, but it was handed over to the public in a process that was influenced by the Citizens for Eastshore State Parks, which was at first headed by Silvia McLaughlin until some members gained control of the group and used their influence and their connections with East Bay Regional Parks to shut out the public and have it clear-cut for their own agenda, indifferent to the general public who opposed this move.