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Letters for the Week of October 9

Readers sound off on BART workers' wages, CEQA reform, and Bill Aboudi bashing.


"Why BART's Wage Offer Doesn't Include a Raise," News, 9/25

Operators Deserve a Decent Wage

Thanks for this analysis. The rest of the media is horrified to find that train operators pull in a decent wage, maybe because journalists at this point do not. But that's no reason to try and make sure no one can afford to live here (so long as there are two such wages in a family anyway).

Pamela Drake, Oakland

BART Workers Don't Deserve More

Very tricky to talk about after-tax earnings rather than just what people are being paid. I've never seen that kind of sleight of hand in reporting on wages in any other context, ever. Hoping that most readers won't spot the difference, perhaps? But you fail to answer the question as to why the already well-paid BART employees should expect an across-the-board raise at all. My raises (beyond inflation, and most of the time not even that) have always been based upon performance and promotions. Why should BART be any different?

I'd be much more interested in working to support private-sector unions, like unionizing Wal-Mart to bring those truly underpaid workers to a fraction of what BART workers make and receive in heath and pension benefits. BART workers will continue to make a "decent" wage no matter what the outcome of the talks are. Nothing I've seen riding BART has convinced me they somehow deserve any more.

Patrick Emmert, Oakland

"Oakland Rent Laws to be Debated," News, 9/25

Free Market Versus Evil Landlord

The good news is that the free market ensures that even an evil landlord cannot charge more than the actual worth of the rental, or he or she will not be able to fill the units.

Gary Baker, San Leandro

Making Landlords Into Slumlords

My only concern is that this will lead to landlords disinvesting in the units. In other words, it will create slumlords out of landlords.

Moises Aceves, Oakland

"Weak CEQA Reform Bill is Not That Bad," Seven Days, 9/25

Rearranging the Deck Chairs

What a surprise to open up the Express and find Robert Gammon's paean to growth. His article is so full of misunderstanding and misinformation as to invite just one question about premises. He states that "the whole point of smart growth is to encourage people to live near their workplaces or mass transit so they won't need cars." I think he's missed the point. With a broader perspective, isn't the whole point of smart growth to build more housing?

He is just talking about the details, or "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic," and most of those details are open to direct challenge. But is this what the citizens of the East Bay and the Bay Area want? Do most current residents feel our lives will be improved by adding two million people to the Bay Area in the next few decades?

Searle Whitney, Berkeley

Dumb Smart Growth Fad

The "smart growth" mantra is all the rage with planners and, not surprisingly, developers, who of course don't want to provide parking for new housing units because that leaves more room for housing and profit. San Francisco is gentrifying rapidly and — surprise — the gentry have cars. In San Francisco, the massive Market and Octavia plan and UC's big housing development a block off Octavia limit the amount of parking that developers can provide for the new housing units, while not providing any more money for our Muni system. Let them ride bikes!

Once you've eliminated traffic from CEQA as an impact, what's left? Like the liberal/progressive infatuation with costly train projects, the dumb smart growth fad will actually harm the environment.

Rob Anderson, San Francisco

No Parking Means Saturated Streets

In the real world, the lack of provided parking results in more cars parked on the already saturated streets. People who can do without cars already do for the most part. Developer refusal to provide parking for residents of their building is just a matter of foisting the true cost of their project onto the surrounding neighborhood. Enough with the pieties promoting developer welfare in the guise of the smart growth fad, which will eventually go the way of the freeway fad.

I'll be explicit in not supporting the retroactive punitive Manhattanization of the Bay Area, which is just as ghastly as the equivalent bay-filling from which Save the Bay saved us. In real terms, in, say my neighborhood in Oakland, we had an actual fatal shooting because two tenants were fighting over a parking space, which the landlord did not provide. Street parking is already saturated, and there is no reason current residents should have to pay the price for the latest green-flag-wrapping developer's get-rich-quick scheme. And we're half a mile from BART, so it only gets worse near the "transit villages."

Also — besides overlooking the fact that if people want to move to Manhattan, God bless them, but we live here because it's not like that — even when one is fortunate enough to be able to drive very little, have a telecommute or transit-friendly job, and be able-bodied and able to do a lot of errands on foot, there eventually comes a time when you have to conduct business or visit friends in a place that requires a car. Even if you drive once a month, you still need the car, and car sharing, while a boon, may not be a fit. You need a place that goes with your residence to keep your car without burdening your neighbors. Not burdening the neighbors is a consideration that seems to be omitted from this discussion all too often, except to brand those who advocate it NIMBYs.