January 2006


Hawaii--a Rick Auerbach photo [copyright] from an Audubon calender




In 2005 this site received just under one million hits with an average viewing time of 30 minutes.


Warehouse flooding in late December and early January took up my time and kept me from my irregular posts--spent Christmas and New Years vacuuming up water and moving storage from walls to find the exact origin of interior leaks.


Another of Rick's photo appears in the Audubon Water's Edge 2006 calender--check it out and then buy the calender!

Want to buy an original Auerbach? He has many beautiful photos for sale, email him.


Leave, room fills with irritant, skin dry, eyes burn, lips dry, cough, light-headed.

Back, is the grey column that rises in the north-west at night and then becomes a cloud and drifts over Potter Creek the result of Bayer's vaporization process--the converting of waste-water into steam?



These excerpts are from Zelda B's editorial in last week's Planet--quoted with Z's permission.

It Takes a Potemkin Transit Village By Zelda Bronstein

In 18th century Russia, Grigori Potemkin purportedly tried to impress Catherine the Great by building elaborate fake villages along a route she traveled in Crimea and the Ukraine. Today, "Potemkin village" signifies a showy false front intended to hide embarrassing or disgraceful conditions. Sad to say, that description fits the project that the City Council endorsed to support an application from the city, in partnership with the South Berkeley Neighborhood Development Corporation (SBNDC) California Department of Transportation Community-Based Transportation Grant. . . . The money would be used to plan a 300-unit "transit village" at the Ashby BART west parking lot, where the city controls the air rights.

Transit villages are dense, mixed-use developments located at transit hubs and stations. Promoted by advocates of "smart growth" . . . transit villages are supposed to discourage commuting and fight sprawl. The one at Ashby BART, we are told, will also provide affordable workforce housing; revitalize the neighborhood economy without gentrifying it; and repair the gaping hole that the Ashby BART station tore into the urban fabric of the south Shattuck area.

Unfortunately, there are giant gaps here between rhetoric and reality. . . . The application asserts that the project has had "public participation from the start," thereby "dramatically improving the potential for the entitlements to be awarded without the public acrimony, lawsuits, delays and uncertainty that plague many projects. The fact is that . . . only a handful of individuals in the south Shattuck area had even heard about plans for a transit village at Ashby BART. Yet E-mails from BART planner Nashua Kalil indicate that BART and city staff had started working with the project's main sponsors, Councilmember Max Anderson and SBNDC representative Ed Church, at least as early as last July.

The stealth factor becomes even more blatant once you learn that the grant application was filed with Caltrans on Oct. 14 . . . Ordinarily, grant applications must be approved by the council before they're submitted to a grantor. . . . why did it take two months and seven more council meetings for it to come up for review? Let me suggest an explanation: Messrs. Kamlarz, Anderson and Church did what they could to keep the public from learning about the Caltrans grant application because they knew that once word got out about a 300-unit transit village at Ashby BART, a lot of people in the south Shattuck community would be alarmed.

The eight who voted to support the project will have a harder time blowing off the community at large. . . . At the Dec. 13 meeting, one of the speakers at public comment . . . asked the council to direct the city manager to withdraw the SBNDC application and to use the staff time that has been dedicated to this proposal to set up a genuine community-based planning process for development at the Ashby BART station. The city could incorporate the ideas that came out of such a process into a new proposal and apply for the same Caltrans grant next fall. Her appeal was ignored.


Ron doesn't yet have a rain guage but he estimates that we had a little rain last night.

And, more information about our current weather conditions than is good for you can be found at www.wunderground.com

There will be a meeting about flooding in west-Berkeley on Tuesday, January 10th at 7:00 PM in the Frances Albrier Building in San Pablo Park. The City Manager and a council person will be present. For more information call 510-981-7126.


Bob Kubik forwards this email from a Watch Commander, Berkeley PD.

"Hello Bob,
I'm the weekend/evening Watch Commander and was recently forwarded your message to the Chief. One of our officers made an arrest of one woman early this morning near Heinz and San Pablo. Seems she gave a false name and attempted to flee. She was booked for resisting arrest along with several outstanding warrants. In general, officers do a pretty good job with spotting these workers, but on occasion things like the limos, new workers, etc do pop up undetected.
Thanks for the heads up and please continue to call in these issues. IF it's convenient, pls call our dispatchers at 981-5900 to report ongoing activity. Thanks again, Wes Hester

Lieutenant W.E. Hester Jr; L-8
Patrol Division / Watch Commander"




"Kiehl's does well outside N.Y." reports Dorothy Vriend of the West County Times. "For almost 150 years, Kiehl's had a single store, in New York's East Village. Now its skin care boutiques are mushrooming across America, with the latest "Kiehl's Since 1851" opening on Fourth Street in Berkeley just before Christmas."


"Persian food comes in healthy portions at Alborz" writes Carol Ness of the San Francisco Chronicle. "The menu at Alborz invites a deep dive into the subtle, seductive world of Persian cooking: juicy kebabs of lamb, filet mignon or salmon, basmati rice fragrant with saffron or candied orange, plates of feta, mint, cilantro and basil waiting to be wrapped in bits of warm, thin lavash. "


Well, reader and vegetarian Kelly M admits to being a Persianophile, but this recipe is 100% American.

Every time I serve this, at least 2 people at the party beg me for the recipe. And it's soooo easy. Just dump everything in a Corningware dish and bake. Period. Here goes:

My Aunt Catharine's Corn Casserole

2 eggs, just slightly beaten with fork
1 can yellow cream style corn
1 cup milk
2 Tablespoons oil
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup yellow corn meal
1 four-ounce can of green chiles, chopped and deseeded
1/2 pound of strong (old) cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients and pour into a greased
casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes or until no longer wiggly in the
centre and beginning to brown around the edges. Bring copies of the
recipe to the event; people will ask for it.



Hummingbird chicks by Rick Auerbach


From my Log

1/2/06--6:06 PM irritant in front room, dry eyes, dry lips, cough; 6:44 PM SERIOUS irritant in front room and odor. 1/3/06--8:48 AM paint odor in warehouse; 9:12 AM irritant in front room; 5:26 PM irritant in front room, leave. 1/6/06--6:55 AM SERIOUS irritant in front room, use mask; 1/7/06--7:00 AM VERY SERIOUS irritant in front room, use mask. Irritant in warehouse all morning. 1/8/06--6:55 AM SERIOUS irritant in front room, use mask; 8:55 AM same. 8:00 PM SERIOUS irritant in front room, leave.


Café Cacao is closed for remodeling until January 15th. Perhaps when they reopen they will pay attention to the details of the business and so become a great restaurant.


Flooding in west-Berkeley? You could repair our streets so that rain and run-off doesn't get into the ground through your crumbling roadways but drains through the system as it was meant to. No money? Don't whine, it's not manly or womanly.

And, then there's the Social Contract! You take care of business, that's why we obey.




Over fifty citizens attended the west-Berkeley flood meeting last night at Frances Albrier Building in San Pablo Park. City staff, city manager and counsel people listened as attendees told stories of water and woe. After an hour or so there was agreement among all that our drainage infrastructure is decaying with culverts collapsing even as public work crews clean them. West-Berkeley drainage is also complicated by our many underground creeks--even the exact location of many is unknown. There was also general agreement that something new is happening-- more widespread, regular, and serious flooding. Also, owners were encouraged to properly maintain their property--clean drains, not route runoff through the sewer system, etc. (Da Boss made a brief appearance and is more svelt than I remember, Linda Maio is much more of a babe than I imagined, Councilman Anderson looked very hip and our Darryl Moore is, in west-Berkeley, the Man.) Oh yeah, it's a 35 to 50 million problem for which we only have a few mill to fix and no more planned money available in the foreseeable future. The most memorable comment of the evening? A black citizen's simple "People are suffering here." The future? As sure as flood waters rise, if nothing is done, sooner than later, west-Berkeley citizens, individually or in a group, will sue.


On hip and cool.

Cool has become what computer-Geeks call their new software. Hip is what we called John Coltrane.




"Residents Complain of Chronic Flooding" writes Riya Bhattacharjee in a special report to Our Planet. "On the morning of Dec. 18, a home owner on Schoolhouse Creek had her entire house flooded within 15 minutes after the creek swelled up to six feet from the rain that day. Because the house was built almost four feet below street level and has no foundation, water from the creek caused the yard to flood and filled the interiors with two inches of water. The flood water caused extensive damage to furniture, expensive rugs, and personal belongings. Flood damage experts estimated the damage at $50,000."


"Donations flood in for program for kids" reports Carolyn Jones of the San Francisco Chronicle. "The BORP kids will ride again. The Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program, which offers recreational programs for disabled children, has received more than $128,000 in donations in recent weeks, more than enough to replace every bicycle, helmet, tire and pump that thieves stole last month from a storeroom. 'The outpouring of support from the community has been tremendous,' said Rick Spittler, the group's executive director."


"Berkeley to honor outstanding women" writes Martin Snapp of the West County Times. "Berkeley is looking for a few good women. The city's Commission on the Status of Women plans to celebrate National Women's History Month in March by honoring outstanding women of Berkeley at a reception March 15.


"Name change scheduled for Vista college--When the new campus opens downtown in June, it will become Berkeley City College." report Martin Snapp and Matt Krupnick of the West County Times. "Vista Community College is about to get a new name. When the new campus in downtown Berkeley opens June 1, it will be known as Berkeley City College. The Peralta Community College District trustees voted unanimously on Wednesday to approve the name change for the 32-year-old school, which celebrated its 30th year in Berkeley last year. "









We're celebtrating with a Civil Rights exhibit through the end of the month at the MLK Building, 2180 Milvia. There's also a reception there on January 17th at Noon.


"New cello concerto a breeze for chamber ensemble" writes Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle. "As it begins its 14th season, the New Century Chamber Orchestra sounds stronger and more vibrant than ever. Thursday's season opener in Berkeley's St. John's Presbyterian Church was a small miracle of ensemble playing and sheer musical exuberance. Under the leadership of Music Director Krista Bennion Feeney, the 18-member group gave performances of music by Mozart and Dvorák that could scarcely have been better."


"Council closer to getting into the energy business--Under the plan, the city would buy electricity from PG&E and resell it to residents and businesses" writes Martin Snapp of the West County Times. "The Berkeley City Council will take another tentative step toward getting into the energy business when it returns from its month-long winter break Tuesday."






Pete's Potter Creek rain gauge measured .65 inch for Satuday/Sunday morning.


There will be a meeting at the West Berkeley Senior Center on January 31 at 7:00 PM to discuss Pacific Steel Casting emissions. Present will be representatives from Pacific Steel, Bay Area Air Quality and Linda Maio's office. For more information contact berkeleyalliance@yahoo.com or call (510)-558-8757.


I'm just wondering. Can you nominate a male cross-dresser for the Berkeley woman of the year award?




After this morning's brief shower there was flooding in Potter Creek along 9th Street. At 9th and Carelton the storm drain was backed up with water well into the intersection and at 9th and Dwight the water flowed over the road's crest into the opposite gutter.

Citizens, report ANY west-berkeley flooding!

Pete reports .65 inches of rain Tuesday/Wednesday morning. And today, .2 since this morning.


Sarah emails

PLEASE post a very important meeting about the development (2817 8th) next to Richard's house--2815 8th? The meeting of the DESIGN REVIEW COMMITTEE is slated for this THURSDAY, Jan 19th, at 7:30 pm, with public comment at the start. This proposed, 3 story structure is precedent setting for our block and possibly for others in the neighborhood. The land under our tiny, single story, 100 year-old cottages has risen in value to the point that it is worth tearing them down (to developers) and building multi-unit, multi-story residences in their place. Problem: those of us who live here, LIKE the current scale. We have successly cohabited with businesses and warehouses for many years who have built with their neighboring buildings next to our houses with consideration to our light and space and privacy.


"Berkeley Housing Authority manager resigns amid controversy" reports Martin Snapp of the West County Times. "Berkeley Housing Authority Manager Sharon Jackson quit Tuesday, a casualty of the record-keeping mess that has the federal government threatening to take away the housing authority's control over Section 8 housing in the city. Jackson shocked the City Council by submitting her resignation during a special council work session, as she and her boss, Housing Director Steve Barton, were detailing the steps BHA is taking clean up its act."


"Two Berkeley High Students Search for a New Home" writes our Annie Kassof in Our Planet. "Berkeley High students Robert Coil, a senior, and Alexis Hooper, a junior, are two of the most gracious teens you could hope to meet. They have ambition, good manners, and guts-the kind of kids who would make their parents proud, if only their parents were around."


"No Radioactive Waste Found at Richmond Site" reports Richard Brenneman of the Planet. "A test dig at the Richmond shoreline site where a retired UC Berkeley worker said barrels of possible radioactive waste had been buried has turned up no evidence of radioactivity or barrels, a state agency reported."

And, Brenneman reports "UC Berkeley Richmond Field Station Development Plans Remain on Hold."




At last night's City Design Review Committee, Marvin's 1014 Pardee project was approved with no conditions--a rarity. Architect, Regan Bice made an short presentation with plan-views and an almost too realistic computer-generated three-quarter view photo of the structure. All seemed happy.

The 2817 8th Street project was not approved and was sent back for revisions--use fewer types of building materials, change the roof slope, use different trim.


On hearing that the city was planning on going into the gas and electric business Kimar exclaimed "Oh, please!"

After some years absence, Ms S is moving back to Potter Creek.


Sources report that the Planning Commission is going to review the west-Berkeley Plan this year sooner than later.

Recently, on submitting building plans to the Planning Department, the submitter was told they might not be approved because the site was not maximally developed--not dense enough.


"Neighbors Oppose Ashby BART Project" writes Richard Brenneman of Our Planet. "Nearly 400 neighbors of Ashby BART packed the South Berkeley Senior Center Tuesday night to voice their concerns about the transit village project proposed for the station's western parking lot."




Saturday evening my front room filled to overflowing with the aroma of roasted meat. Could that have been coming from the evening's Adams and Chittenden roast pig shindig? This event is held every year often around this time--a pig is roasted back in their annealing oven as part of their annual party for friends and clients.

Just who are these guys? They pose and answer this question themselves at http://www.adamschittenden.com/about/001Who_Are_These_Guys.php

Now as a blonde, George can also be seen and heard around town playing music. "You know, he's famous" said a young female admirer and neighbor. " "Oboists?" quipped another "They're like violinists--prima donnas."


"Amid housing boom, Oakland looks to keep room for industry" reports Kiley Russell of the West County Times. "From the streets of Oakland's industrial heartland, a debate has emerged about land use and community values that involves more citywide soul-searching than a typical planning department policy discussion. The city is mulling a plan to permanently protect large swaths of roughly 4,300 acres of heavy and light industrial land in east, central and west Oakland by limiting or preventing housing and retail development. The plan arose in recent years as businesses and planners became alarmed by the increasing pace of market-rate residential development in areas long reserved for industry."

One of the reasons Potter Creek is so attractive to residential development is it's Mixed Use Zoning. Here, structure's floor-square-footage can be over 150% of the lot's square-footage. This is opposed to an 80% ratio in residential areas. Our over 150% ratio is a codification of west-Berkeley Plan recommendations--a plan in which both activists Rick Auerbach and John Curl were mightily involved. The lesson here? Realtors and developers should higher Rick and John as consultants?

"Bay Area home sales down in December, prices slide 16% decline in number sold is biggest drop in 4 years" reports Kelly Zito, of the San Francisco Chronicle


"A century's worth of backstage stories" reports Martin Snapp of the West County Times. "Did you know that Mikhail Baryshnikov is a golf nut? 'He's very obsessed with his game,' said his friend Robert Cole, director of UC Berkeley's Cal Performances. 'He takes lessons, and we play together every time he comes here to perform.' Cole still remembers the time a society matron came up to Baryshnikov at a post-performance reception and gushed, 'Oh, Mr. Baryshnikov! What's your next goal?' 'To break 80,' he replied."


"Workshops to map cutting emissions" reports Rick Jurgens of the West County Times. "Two events this week could offer an early measure of Californians' willingness to back tough actions, including higher gasoline taxes, to fulfill Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's promise to make the state a leader in reducing emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming."




"Trees Manage Water to the Benefit of the Atmosphere" writes Ron Sullivan in Our Planet. "The tap roots that some species have, which can extend more than their height underground, have more to do than anchor the tree. Fibrous feeding roots reach a broad, shallower area around the tree; tap roots, using chemical potential gradients, redistribute water downwards in rainy seasons and upwards in dry seasons to keep nurturing life processes


"Density bonuses, West Berkeley zoning changes and creeks are among the land use issues city officials will be considering this week" reports Richard Brenneman of the Planet. "A Tuesday afternoon session in the city's Permit Service Center brings together representatives of the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) and the Planning and Housing Advisory commissions to hear recommendations for changing the city's controversial density bonus ordinance."



Wouldn't it be wonderful if Acme Bread expanded into the old welder's building on Pardee and the welder's yard at 8th and Pardee became a residence-development with even some retail shops on the ground floor? Maybe an Acme outlet and cafe.


It's worth seeking out yesterday's East Bay Daily for Fred Dodsworth's "Ashby BART project's therapy put off for now."

Fits in with my view that ever since we lost the Insurrection we haven't been really happy with ourselves.


Most of the structures on the old APOC site on 9th and Ashby have now been raised. Remaining is the "tin shed" that sources report is filled with irritant fumes.

"Fewer 'bluebills' on the bay--Loss of habitat, toxic elements hurt 2 species of scaup" writes Glen Martin of the San Francisco Chronicle.





"State, area housing starts fell last year" reports James Temple of the West County Times. "Earlier this month, the California Building Industry Association predicted that the state's 12-year run in home building gains would finally end in 2006. In fact, it ended last month. Year-end numbers from the Sacramento-based trade group show California and East Bay housing starts declined in 2005, as new construction continued to drop off faster than anticipated in December. State housing starts, as measured by permits, have been falling since October as home builders move to cut inventory in the face of a nine-month-long drop in sales."


"East Bay fuels region's job growth-- Employment increase likely to persist in Alameda, Contra Costa counties through 2007, economist says " writes the Times, George Avalos.


"Secondhand smoke toxic air contaminant. State Air Resources Board vote paves way for possible new limits on tobacco use" reports Jane Kay of the San Francisco Chronicle. "California regulators became the first in the nation Thursday to designate secondhand tobacco smoke as a 'toxic air contaminant,' a move that could lead to new city and state laws and educational campaigns directed at smoking parents."

Damn, The Boss was way ahead on this one and I panned him for his foresight. I owe 'em one! If His People will contact My People we can arrange a breakfast of scrambled eggs and lox, onion bagels and French roast. I'll make it down here in west -Berkeley. I've some experience with breakfasts you know.


"Density Bonus Committee Explores Retail, In-Lieu Fees" reports Richard Brenneman of Our Planet.
"Members of the joint commission formed to look into the city's density bonus are moving closer to formulating suggestions for a new ordinance. The panel, drawn from the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB), Planning
Commission and the Housing Advisory Commission (HAC) gathered in the city's Permit Services Center Tuesday."


"Focus on West Berkeley Getting the Job Done" writes Marta Yamamoto of The Planet. "There's no denying that Berkeley has a worldwide reputation, not always positive. From humble beginnings in the 1850s, through the turbulent 1960s and up to today, Berkeley's citizens are seldom shy about voicing their passions. Berkeley was first home to squatters along the bay,s shoreline attracted by accessible water and farmland. Later, the establishment of the University of California acted like a magnet for students and staff. The 1906 earthquake further increased the population, causing many San Franciscans to cross the bay and change their city of residence."


"Boom Ends For South Asian Shops--Competition Heats Up in Berkeley's Little India" is Riya Bhattacharjee's report in the Berkeley Daily Planet.






this year mid-January

last year February


Café Cacao advertises reopening February 1st with a new interior and a new menu.

Kimar and I went to lunch today at Café Rouge--one burger with fries and a roast beef sandwich, forty-one bucks with tip. Ok, it was Niman Ranch beef but forty-one bucks? Makes one pine for a good ole fashioned Street Demonstration.


Kimar forwards

Examples of life in England

1) Commenting on a complaint from a Mr. Arthur Purdey about a large
gas bill, a spokesman for North West Gas said, "We agree it was
rather high for the time of year. It's possible Mr. Purdey has been
charged for the gas used up during the explosion that destroyed his
house." (The Daily Telegraph)

2) Police reveal that a woman arrested for shoplifting had a whole
salami in her underwear. When asked why, she said it was because she
was missing her Italian boyfriend. (The Manchester Evening News)

3) Irish police are being handicapped in a search for a stolen van,
because they cannot issue a description. It's a Special Branch
vehicle and they don't want the public to know what it looks like.
(The Guardian)

4) A young girl who was blown out to sea on a set of inflatable
teeth was rescued by a man on an inflatable lobster. A coast guard
spokesman commented, "This sort of thing is all too common". (The

5) At the height of the gale, the harbourmaster radioed a coastguard
and asked him to estimate the wind speed. He replied he was sorry,
but he didn't have a gauge. However, if it was any help, the wind
had just blown his Land Rover off the cliff. (Aberdeen Evening Express)

6) Mrs. Irene Graham of Thorpe Avenue, Boscombe, delighted the
audience with her reminiscence of the German prisoner of war who was
sent each week to do her garden. He was repatriated at the end of
1945, she recalled. "He'd always seemed a nice friendly chap, but
when the crocuses came up in the middle of our lawn in February
1946, they spelt out 'Heil Hitler.'" (Bournemouth Evening Echo)



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